Engler leaves EDS

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler has resigned from EDS to take over the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

EDS officials had no immediate comment, and Engler was traveling in Europe and unavailable for immediate comment. But NAM officials announced today that Engler would become the next president and chief executive officer of the largest industrial trade association in the United States.

"Gov. Engler's track record in Michigan shows that he understands manufacturers and their workers, the importance of manufacturing to the country and how to get things done," said NAM Chairman Richard Dauch, co-founder, chairman and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. in Detroit. The association's board must approve Engler's appointment.

Engler submitted his resignation to EDS, a high-tech solutions company, June 11, nearly 18 months after he had been brought in to build up the company's state and local practice.

A three-term governor with tech savvy, he was appointed president of EDS' state and local government and vice president of government solutions for North America in January 2003. He was never able to bring in any significant state or local business, according to industry sources, or be the "rainmaker" that EDS officials had wanted him to become.

Shortly after Engler took the EDS job, his mentor, Dick Brown, was ousted as the company's chairman and CEO.

Engler found that state and local government officials were facing budget crises and hard-pressed to spend new money on information technology. So, it's no surprise that he had trouble building a state and local practice, according to Peter Kant, senior vice president of Jefferson Consulting Group LLC.

"State budgets are so depleted, so into the red that contracts for just about everything, including IT, are on hold or going away," Kant said.

EDS executives should have been looking for ways to help states save money and meet their needs by deploying IT, said Thom Rubel, vice president of government strategies at the Meta Group Inc. "It's not realistic that you can generate business in a market like that based on a name," he said.

Engler's IT credentials were impeccable. As governor, he created the Department of Information Technology, which developed online government services and the state's award-winning Web site. He centralized e-government initiatives and created the state's Web portal, Michigan.gov.

In an interview with Federal Computer Week when he took the EDS job, Engler said, technology is a "strategic investment for government today. It has the ability to lower costs in today's environment...and improve productivity, something we've seen firsthand in Michigan."

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