Rising Star winners
Junior Software Engineer
Joint Service Lightweight Standoff Chemical Agent Detector
Ryan Altenbaugh analyzes test data and simulates and models programs for system evaluations.
When asked to study the model for the Joint Service Lightweight Standoff Chemical Agent Detector program, he went beyond it to develop new models that expanded the functionality of the original. He added automation to make the overall evaluation process faster. Because of his efforts, the system is now being used to supplement the performance testing process for the program.
Randy Young, system manager for the Army program, said Altenbaugh’s work could change the way the service employs development programs.
The Army Human Resources Command provides vital information technology infrastructure and automated services that support more than 1 million Army soldiers. It can be a chaotic
Amy Anda came in as a government contractor to help with the Army’s business transformation, capital planning investment, and control and portfolio management.
She worked at such a level of efficiency and accuracy that her output became a model for other actions in the command. Anda is often asked to participate on mission-essential project teams for higher-echelon tasks.
Town of Vienna, Va., Government
The government of Vienna, Va., serves 16,000 citizens. Two information technology employees have primary responsibility for the IT infrastructure that supports the town’s 155 employees. The small IT staff must be nimble enough to address whatever problems arise.
As an intern working for the town, Eytan Apelberg constructed a visitors information page. “Even as an intern, Eytan was special because at the end of each workday he would go home and work on town IT issues on his own personal time,” said Craig Griffin, Vienna’s IT administrator.
After Apelberg was hired full-time, he created the Public Works Department’s Tracker system, which monitors trash collection, mulch processing and complaints. Developing that system necessitated working with department officials to assess their needs and modernizing a DOS-based system.
Veterans Health Administration
Since joining the Veterans Health Administration’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System as a GS-5 library clerk in 1999, Rodney Austin has become a leader in developing Web-based business applications for the health care system. Now a GS-13 information technology specialist, he took college courses in computer programming on his own time and volunteered for agency-sponsored training whenever it was offered.
The Human Resources Automation Suite that Austin has been developing since 2000 “is something the [Department of Veterans Affairs] should have had for years, and he’s making it happen,” said Dennis Scott, human resources chief for the Los Angeles system.
Government-to-Government Portfolio Manager
Office of Management and Budget
When Stacie Boyd applied for a job at the Office of Management and Budget, agencies’ efforts to initiate the Grants Management Line of Business had stalled. Participants had agreed on a vision for managing grants, but they struggled to decide on an operating model. Each agency had its own way of issuing grants.
The objective behind the grants management initiative is to streamline federal grant-making programs. Rather than operate independent systems, the 26 agencies that issue grants could use a shared service to reduce costs and improve service.
Tim Young, associate administrator for e-government and IT at OMB, said Boyd helped construct a framework for the grants initiative by clarifying its goals. She built mutual trust among agency task force members and focused on improving federal grants management through IT.
Supervisory Financial Analyst
Small Business Administration
When Ann Bradbury became project manager for the Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneurial Development Management Information System (EDMIS), a data collection system for three major grant programs with an annual budget of more than $100 million, she inherited a program that had foundered for several years because of high employee turnover.
Cheryl Mills, associate deputy administrator for entrepreneurial development at SBA, said Bradbury “helped us at a very critical time” when the two officials in charge of the program had left the agency. “We knew of Ann’s competency in this area and we knew that Ann was somebody who was totally reliable and that once she took on a project, she would stay on it with tremendous diligence, no matter what her workload was.”
EDMIS has now been able to upload 12 million pieces of data. “It was a tremendous effort,” Mills said.
Litigation Case Management System
As program manager for the Justice Department’s Litigation Case Management System, Christopher Carey is responsible for procuring and managing the implementation of a shared system that can be used across the department’s seven litigation divisions. Similar projects have been attempted in the past without success, said Vance Hitch, Justice’s chief information officer. But where others have failed, Carey has succeeded because he has brought a genuine spirit of collaboration to the project, Hitch said.
Carey went beyond the scope of his job by establishing a performance-based contract that can be the basis for future information technology contracts. He also launched the first phase of the Office of Management and Budget’s Case Management Line of Business initiative, which will be a catalyst for deploying systems across Justice’s litigation divisions.
John Chiu Jr.
National Institutes of Health
As the administrator of the $2 billion Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 2 Innovations contract at the National Institutes of Health’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), John Chiu’s job is to make happy matches between 45 IT suppliers and buyers from many federal agencies.
It’s a hectic and stressful job, but Chiu performs it gracefully and with enthusiasm. He completed NIH’s Emerging Leader internship program and has worked at NITAAC for two years.
One customer, Air Force Maj. Ernest Wearren, said he likes working with NITAAC because of its speed and responsiveness. As for Chiu, Wearren praised his unfailingly positive attitude and said, “I always felt like I was the most important client he had.”
Airman 1st Class Bradford Curry
Applications Systems Technician
Despite barely two years of service, Bradford Curry already has a string of successes.
He was the lowest-ranking briefer during a visit by the Air Mobility Command’s Installation Excellence Award team to Pope Air Force Base. His deployment of anti-spyware technology at the base was adopted as a best practice by the Air Force, which led to the base receiving the Installation Excellence Award. Curry helped shield the base and its sensitive information from nearly 60 network attacks by rogue users. For all of those achievements, he ranks first among 68 airmen assigned to the Pope base.
Contract Specialist/E-Business Systems Integration Manager
Ryan Dickover, an e-business and contracting automation specialist, helped develop the SeaPort acquisition Web portal for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
He is responsible for management oversight of Navsea’s business systems and interfaces, including the Standard Procurement System, the Wide Area Workflow, the SeaPort Enhanced system, the Procurement Management Reporting System, the Navy’s enterprise resource planning program and others.
Dickover can describe the most arcane concepts in simple, understandable English, said Capt. Gary Broadwell, his boss at Navsea headquarters.
Dickover’s background as a contract specialist, his information technology expertise and his can-do attitude have created a problem for Broadwell: He must find a way to keep Dickover at Navsea while other agencies try to lure him away. “I know people at the Pentagon who want to steal him,” Broadwell said.
Office of Personnel Management
Bridget Dongarra, a program analyst in the Automated Systems Management Group (ASMG) at the Office of Personnel Management, is working a trainee-level job but performing far above the trainee level. There were no precedents or practices in place for Dongarra to follow, so she had to gather her own information and determine courses of action, often overcoming skepticism from colleagues in the process, according to her more senior co-workers.
“She’s very well organized,” said David Nason, acting director of ASMG. “There can be a meeting going on with people bantering back and forth, and what she will end up with is a coherent, unified description of what everybody was after and kind of build consensus around that. She has the ability to take the parts and make a whole.”
Strategic sourcing in the Defense Department would have developed without Andrew Glaser but probably not so quickly or efficiently.
“He crafted a strategy that applied to the Defense Department and worked with all of the various parts of the DOD to bring it together,” said Mark Krzysko, assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for strategic sourcing and acquisition processes.
A broad understanding of the organizational and cultural elements of the DOD environment enabled Glaser to deal effectively across many executive-level initiatives, Krzysko said.
Information Systems Security Manager
Homeland Security Department
Randi Greenberg is information systems security manager for the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program.
She has the task of securing information collected for the program. Other DHS bureaus — such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services — contribute information to the program.
One of her biggest initial challenges was trying to standardize everything from technologies to policies.
Scott Hastings, who recently announced his resignation as the chief information officer for US-VISIT, said Greenberg argued persuasively to require passwords on all Research in Motion BlackBerry devices distributed to US-VISIT employees.
The BlackBerry story is indicative of her approach to all assignments, said Hastings, who praised her “firmness tempered with [a] grace that is exemplary.”
Information Technology Specialist
Social Security Administration
Social Security Administration
Temujin Greer investigates fraud allegations against the government by sharing information with the Internal Revenue Service’s commissioner and inspector general and with other agencies.
“His work is highly secure and confidential, which is [asking] a great deal of someone so young,” said Janice Greene, a supervisory information technology specialist and branch chief at the Social Security Administration.
Greene said Greer’s work was crucial in identifying false claims for disability benefits and correctly paying recipients of Title XVI supplemental security income for the aged, blind and disabled. During Greer’s regional-level training, he assisted in the recovery of $1 million in fraudulently paid benefits.
Federal Systems Integration and Management Center
General Services Administration
Christopher Hamm is the youngest group manager in the history of the General Services Administration’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM).
At 23, Hamm became a manager for international projects and soon became an expert on commodity procurements and performance-based contracting. He built strong relationships with agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration. He boosted FEDSIM’s budget from $1 million to $30 million annually.
“He is a great example of the future of FEDSIM,” said William Kreykenbohm, a group manager at the center.
Deputy Chief Technology Officer
District of Columbia Government
Jamey Harvey started working in the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer three years ago and was soon promoted to deputy CTO. In that role, he has developed one of the country’s leading governmental service-oriented architecture strategies. That strategy has enabled the district to extend the life of its existing systems, promote extensive reuse of applications, and connect and mine disparate data sources.
Suzanne Peck, the district’s CTO, said Harvey showed great initiative. When he was asked to update the district’s Web site, he developed a Web-enabled permit application that allows the public to obtain public-space permits online, freeing citizens from having to wait in line.
Lead for Enterprise Transition Planning
Business Transformation Agency
In 2005, Kristyn Jones led the development of Business Transformation Agency’s first Enterprise Transition Plan, the Defense Department’s annual road map for business transformation. Jones now leads the team that develops the business transformation strategy on which the plan is based.
The plan affects the entire DOD business community, and observers hailed it as the first comprehensive plan for business systems modernization in the department.
“Ms. Jones’ leadership, acumen and upbeat collaborative approach were instrumental,” said Grant Soderstrom, vice president of CACI’s Transformation Solutions Group. “She consistently displays mental agility and sets a standard in her ability to adapt to change, share information willingly and collaborate with others.”
Federal Security Director
Orlando International Airport
Transportation Security Administration
After joining the ranks of the Transportation Security Administration’s Senior Executive Service two years ago at age 35, Lee Kair quickly advanced to the position of federal security director at one of the busiest U.S. airports. He started working at Orlando International Airport in Florida this summer.
Before leaving TSA headquarters, Kair facilitated and participated in discussions with senior officials about hot issues, such as detecting improvised explosive devices, in the agency’s self-described war room.
At the Orlando airport, Kair has implemented the hiring models and threat assessment techniques that he and other TSA executives devised in the war room.
Enterprise Computing Technology Practice
It is only fitting that Steven Krauss is among the first Rising Star Award recipients. The general manager of the Enterprise Computing Technology Practice at GTSI was one of the visionaries who came to Federal Computer Week with the idea of creating an award to recognize young leaders in government information technology.
Krauss was also the driving force behind the creation of the AFCEA International Bethesda, Md., chapter’s Young AFCEANs.
Rising Star Awards judge Phil Kiviat, a partner at Guerra Kiviat, said Krauss is “the kind of young guy you look to for leadership. He’s a young man with a lot of imagination and a lot of drive.” Krauss is now the Bethesda AFCEA chapter’s vice president for membership and “is doing a very good job there, too,” Kiviat added.
Information Assurance Officer
John LaGuardia, an information assurance officer at a Defense Department agency he declines to identify for security reasons, had his first taste of federal service and information systems while serving as a White House intern in 2003.
As an intern, LaGuardia helped identify a flaw in the process for posting media content to the White House’s Web site. He went on to become an intern in the Army’s technology office in 2004, where he helped identify emerging technologies.
A 2005 graduate of the Cyber Corps Program, LaGuardia now works on a DOD information technology vulnerability assessment team focused on ensuring the confidentiality and availability of DOD IT systems. Meanwhile, he is helping recruit future federal IT leaders by encouraging them to follow the Cyber Corps path that has served him so well.
Office of Management and Budget
The federal health architecture recently broadened its focus from coordinated efforts within the federal sector to activities related to a national health information technology architecture.
Kristy LaLonde, a policy analyst in the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, knew the obstacles the shift presented for OMB’s Federal Health Architecture Line of Business. Nevertheless, she created a broad consensus within the health IT community as the initiative developed its goals.
LaLonde worked closely with senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and OMB to reach realistic objectives. Often as the most junior representative in the room, she demonstrated poise and grace while reconciling competing interests on a topic of national importance and political interest, her supervisors said.
“Kristy’s focus on a nationwide approach to interoperability is key to implementing the president’s vision for effective and efficient health care IT systems,” said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT. “All Americans will be better served by the work Kristy is doing.”
Manager of Midrange Computer Operations
U.S. Postal Service
The Unix computing systems at the U.S. Postal Service host many of the agency’s mission-critical applications and USPS.com, the Postal Service’s public Web site. When you mess with those systems, it’s best not to mess up.
Craig Larscheid engineered a server implementation that increased efficiency by as much as 50 percent. While working on that project, he also oversaw the development of new program scripts and other enhancements that let USPS upgrade computers nearly overnight. It used to take USPS weeks to do that, said Rich Lena, the agency’s manager of host computing services.
Chief of the Cyber Threat Analysis Division
Christopher Lukas supervises 20 employees across three branches of the Cyber Threat Analysis Division: Threat Analysis, Red Cell, and Technical Analysis and Special Operations.
He conducted a specialized penetration test of the agency’s security infrastructure. The vulnerabilities the test uncovered led officials to establish new configuration schemes, change operating standards and improve the department’s monitoring methodology.
Deputy Director and Regional General Manager
Health and Human Services Agency
San Diego, Calif., County Government
Nick Macchione is a senior operations executive who directs a full-time staff of 1,400 government employees at San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. He led the county’s business process re-engineering project to improve the delivery of field services by nurses working with high-risk, low-income families.
Macchione established a Web-based referral process and worked with the nurses to help them adjust to the new way of doing business.
Because of Macchione’s efforts, employees embraced the new referral process and encouraged their peers to accept the changes. Now the county processes referrals 75 percent faster, and nurses’ productivity has increased by 25 percent, according to the county’s assessment of the program.
Business Systems Modernization Support Program
Jon Marshall leads NewVectors’ program management support contract for the Defense Logistics Agency’s Business Systems Modernization and Fuels Automation System programs.
With a staff of 10, he is also the lead analyst on all cost and funding documentation, providing leadership to senior DLA executives on federal acquisition regulations and oversight.
His life cycle cost estimate for the BSM project led to DLA committing to reduce spending by more than $1.2 billion through 2017. Marshall demonstrated his leadership skills, analytical abilities and economic background, said Bernadette Gregorian, DLA business unit leader at NewVectors.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Hamid Moinamin founded Inserso in 1994 at the age of 18. Today, at 30, Moinamin still heads the firm, which is a Small Business Administration certified 8(a) provider of application development and information technology staffing services to federal agencies.
Tricia Iveson, senior director of IT business transformation at SI International, said Moinamin volunteers for hard work and follows through on his commitments.
When he took charge of the Excellence.gov Awards, which recognizes government employees, the program had little money or support. He did not quit, Iveson said.
“He just blew us away with his work ethic, his inventiveness,” she said. “He brought a whole host of fresh ideas to the program. He really took it to a different level.”
Business specialist Rebecca Moore has saved thousands of dollars and many trees since she began her job at the Interior Department. She is the GovWorks project team manager for implementing the Financial and Business Management System.
Moore was instrumental in automating paper-based invoice processing, which resulted in reducing interest payments from as much as $15,000 a month to zero, her supervisors said.
In addition, Moore is a whiz at explaining the automation process to customers.
“Moore is also an excellent communicator in both oral and written mediums,” said Richard Stegall, her boss and Interior’s Customer Relations Division chief. “She is always prepared with the slides and illustrations required to make a point, often before others could have even identified an issue.”
Deputy Division Chief
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelink is an important link in the nation’s intelligence infrastructure that enables government agencies to share sensitive but unclassified data. Before Zachary Murray arrived at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), such data sharing was on a slow but steady growth path.
Murray saw limitations in Intelink’s dedicated circuits and client-based virtual private networks, and he led efforts to transform it into a modern, Web-based infrastructure.
Alex Voultepsis, chief of ODNI’s Applications and Services Integration Division, said people are now requesting services on the network. Murray “broke open a complex challenge that we had said ‘no’ to in the past because it was too complicated,” Voultepsis said.
Chief Information Security Officer
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
As the chief information security officer for the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Paul Nguyen is responsible for the small agency’s information security and security risk management.
In a short time, Nguyen created a strategic path and implementation plan that yielded tangible results. He instituted a metrics program that allows agency officials to measure information security initiatives and show tangible benefits from security investments.
Federal Systems Integration and Management Center
General Services Administration
Corey Nickens, who started as an intern in December 2004 at the General Services Administration’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM), was expected to play only a supportive role.
However, within four months, he was writing acquisition packages for complex information technology systems integrations. He also drafted a $21 million acquisition package with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Since June 2005, he has built on that success, managing the pre-acquisition activities and developing the acquisition packages for five additional procurements worth a total of $61 million.
“Corey Nickens is that rare individual who combines incredible talent and drive, with that even rarer quality of sincere humility,” said Rian Block, group manager for FEDSIM’s Civilian Group 2 programs. “If I could clone Corey, any endeavor would be guaranteed to succeed.”
Information Technology Specialist
A graduate of the Cyber Corps Program, Adam Oline’s job at the Justice Department is to establish comprehensive reviews of information technology security products and develop configuration management processes. He has excelled at both, according to his supervisors.
“Adam has just been a tremendous resource,” said Dennis Heretick, chief information security officer at Justice. “We can focus on implementing controls and not spend all our money on planning the controls. Adam has been superb in taking the lead on that.”
Oline has quickly grasped the importance of the human dimension in cybersecurity, said Jim Leahy, a program manager at Northrop Grumman’s IT Sector, which provides support for Justice.
“He’s right up in the front of the room,” Leahy said. “People are looking to Adam to articulate an approach. He’s a quality person, very sincere. He has the intellect to quickly grasp concepts.”
Mandy Parmer has shown she can save her customers a few dollars. As program director of BAE Systems’ Consolidated Application Integration program for the past two years, she has saved government customers about $2.4 million on application support for about 40 applications, according to her supervisors.
She has resolved more than 1,500 requests for action from customers, reduced the rate of those action requests by 5 percent and eliminated 11 applications that were redundant or obsolete.
Parmer is shy about accepting any accolades, said John Polacek, vice president and general manager of defense solutions at BAE.
He said Parmer is a loyal employee. “A lot of people in her age category have grown by job hopping,” he said. “Mandy has been with us since 1998.”
Environmental Protection Agency
Megan Quinn is co-founder of Young Government Leaders, a networking group organized to give young federal employees a forum that matches similar groups for industry employees. YGL provides opportunities for information sharing, career advancement and professional development.
“She identified a need among other young professionals and then acted in a leadership role to fill that gap,” said Jonathan Benett, manager at Blackstone Technology Group and co-founder of the AFCEA International Bethesda, Md., chapter’s Young AFCEANs.
Quinn said her work with YGL never felt like work. “I really believe in the good things government can do, and this made me feel more a part of the federal government,” she said.
Area Systems Coordinator
Social Security Administration
An area systems coordinator provides direction and support for the Social Security Administration’s field offices for all programs and services delivered through electronic processing systems. In that role, Andy Reago developed several programs that enable users to work more efficiently and effectively. One of those is the WBTools program, which he designed to administer user accounts in SSA’s new Microsoft Active Directory environment.
The Active Directory environment represented a significant change for SSA. Reago’s WBTools program made the transition to and continuing administration of Active Directory easier and faster.
Homeland Security Department
Steve Ressler has two accomplishments to take pride in. In his job at the Homeland Security Department, he performs beyond his grade level and takes on roles that aren’t required by his job description, said Richard Harsche, audit manager.
After work, Ressler contributes his time to Young Government Leaders (YGL), a social networking group for young federal employees that has grown rapidly from its beginnings as an informal gathering of friends in 2003. Ressler is co-founder of the group.
Ressler’s father was a member of the Senior Executive Service at the Internal Revenue Service, and that may have influenced Ressler’s view of public service, said Megan Quinn, YGL’s co-founder.
“I think he’s really, really interested in being a leader,” she said.
Information Technology Project Manager
Oklahoma Department of Human Services
When Michael Russ joined the Oklahoma Department of Human Services five years ago, his job involved herding cats. Whenever an information technology project was necessary, the IT shop went to work. Russ was supposed to keep tabs on as many as 300 projects, from small bug fixes to large applications.
Russ struggled. But instead of complaining or quitting, he crafted a solution. “He took it upon himself to look at the bigger picture,” said Fonda Logston, the department’s IT director. “We really needed to prioritize everything at one time.”
It took awhile, but Russ convinced the department to adopt his proposal for a formal governance scheme. Now the department has a 13-member board to approve proposed projects and assign priorities.
Jerry Russell Jr.
Information Technology Management Specialist
Knowledge Management Division
Jerry Russell is at the leading edge of information technology in the Defense Department. He leads the Knowledge Management Division for the departmentwide Defense Knowledge Online portal.
Russell rose to the challenge when a transition gap in Army staffing created an opportunity for him to lead. Taking on responsibilities above his level, Russell applied himself, showing skill and determination. He successfully survived his “trial by fire” and produced excellent work, Army officials said.
“He is an excellent example of how one should live up to and represent Army values,” said Gary Winker, director of the Army’s Governance, Acquisition and Chief Knowledge Office.
Chief of Staff for Security Technology and Engineering
National Security Agency
Tracy Ruszin’s rise from secretary to chief of staff for the National Security Agency’s Office of Security Technology shows that some stars can be homegrown.
Ruszin earned her college degree and developed her computer programming skills at night school while working her way up the agency’s ranks. In August 2000, NSA tapped her to lead an enterprisewide initiative to automate critical business practices using commercial software tools.
That task became urgent after the 2001 terrorist attacks, when NSA assigned Ruszin and her team to automate business practices to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jim Fraley, director of business process solutions at Northrop Grumman who worked for Ruszin as a contractor, paid homage to her roots at NSA, adding that her history at NSA allowed her to get the business practice reorganization done.
Vice President of Business Development
Red Team Consulting
It can be difficult for smaller companies to gain a foothold in the world of federal contracting. When a company expands its business more than fivefold in one year, it’s time to pay attention to the people involved.
Jeff Shen has been largely responsible for that kind of growth at Red Team Consulting through his leadership in sales, marketing and business development, said Carole Dunn, Red Team’s president.
Dunn said Shen has also made substantial contributions to the federal information technology community through his focus on improving communications between government and industry.
Enterprise Solutions Division
Arvinder Singh led the development of a next-generation Medicaid Management Information System for Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. Under his direction, CNSI’s design team tapped into cutting-edge methodologies and information technologies to design a system that replaced the state’s 30-year-old Medicaid system.
Singh “stands out in a field of many achievers as a visionary who grasps the importance of IT advances and is able to synthesize them into useful applications,” said Susan Fox, president and chairman of Fox Systems, a provider of consulting services to health care organizations.
It seems you begin with Cody Smith being the youngest leader of an in-theater Army Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care unit and go from there.
Besides leading activity at the Army’s casualty care unit in Kuwait as a General Dynamics contractor, Smith has trained hundreds of Army medics to use patient care documentation systems, shown scores of systems administrators how to troubleshoot and repair hardware and software problems, and helped deploy more than 70 Army medical information systems to Iraq.
Smith created and deployed standard operating procedures for electronic medical records to support the Kuwait mission. Those procedures are also now followed as best practices in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar.
Computer Engineer/Team Leader
Jon Smolenski was given sole responsibility for the Army’s Urban Sabre Advanced Technology Objective (ATO) to develop multiband lasers. Most programs of its size and complexity have at least a two- or three-person team.
But Smolenski launched himself into the project without hesitation, said Giorgio Bertoli, chief of the Army’s Offensive Information Operations Branch. As a result of Smolenski’s dedication, the Urban Sabre ATO has a working prototype, and the program is ahead of schedule.
Smolenski’s efforts have resulted in his promotion to team leader for computer network operations in the Information Operations Branch, a rare opportunity for someone so young, Bertoli said.
Brooke Spitzer was just out of graduate school when the leader of the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer Performance Leadership and Management Team left. When a teammate had to take an extended medical leave, Spitzer became the person responsible for the team’s mission at a time when the Navy was developing performance measures for its information management and information technology strategic plan.
“It was a large and complex measure, and she jumped right in and did what she needed to do,” said Michelle Schmith, the current team leader. “She just has a lot of class.”
Spitzer now works for the State Department in Europe.
Proactive Integrated Link Selection for Network Robustness
As team leader for the Army’s Proactive Integrated Link Selection for Network Robustness (PILSNER) advanced technology objective, Aristides Staikos leads one of the military’s top research and development activities. But it is his knowledge of commercial technologies that makes him invaluable.
“About eight years ago, the Army cut back on its [research and development] spending, so we needed to leverage commercial technologies,” said Jeffrey Keehn, chief of the Special Projects Office for the Army’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate.
Staikos demonstrated a special understanding of the operational needs of the PILSNER program, knowledge of commercial technologies and awareness of the implementation issues that arise in a military environment, Keehn said.
Chief Scientist and Executive Director
Human Factors International
Kathleen Straub is one of the brightest talents at Human Factors International, said John Bosley, a research psychologist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Office of Survey Methods Research. The firm performs usability tests for agency Web sites.
Straub has an unusual awareness of the needs and capabilities of federal agencies, Bosley said. Many usability consultants accept an agency’s statement of work at face value, he said. “They do a perfectly competent job, but Kath is unusual in trying to [identify] issues that could come back and bite the agency.”
Information Technology Specialist
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Christopher Taylor’s ingenuity at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led to the deployment of a wireless communications system that allows technicians to automatically transmit data from ocean buoys to meteorologists, oceanographers, technicians and other professionals at the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC).
“Before Chris appeared, the technicians would have to take a laptop and go out to the buoy, plug in the laptop to retrieve the buoy data and then go back to [an Internet hookup] to share the data,” said Bill Burnett, who is Taylor’s supervisor and branch chief of the Data Management and Communications Branch at NDBC.
Although Taylor, an information technology specialist, has been on the job only 10 months, he has already installed wireless connectivity campuswide, an improved network infrastructure and a Web mirror to back up NDBC in case a catastrophic hurricane were to shut down the center.
Kyle Tucker Jr.
Project Leader for Southwest Asia
Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems
Kyle Tucker is the Southwest Asia project leader for the Army’s product manager for Defensewide Transition Systems. In that role, he is responsible for providing strategic enterprise transmission systems for commands in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Last year, he managed 27 information technology projects in Afghanistan, often while under fire.
Soldiers don’t have much of a choice about deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. As a civilian working for the Army, Tucker does. Yet he has volunteered to go into harm’s way numerous times.
As a trained emergency medical technician/paramedic, Tucker uses his downtime to help medical teams with triage and other duties. He plans to redeploy to Iraq and Kuwait soon.
Tucker’s “leadership, technical savvy and ability to effectively apply the ‘does it make sense?’ test go a long way in ensuring mission success,” said Arthur Reiff, deputy program manager for Defense communications and Army transmission systems.
Chief Technology Officer
Tatyana Vidrevich is XSB’s project manager for the Defense Department’s EMall program, a Web-based ordering system that allows DOD and other agencies to purchase goods and services from 1,200 commercial vendors offering nearly 20 million items.
Vidrevich took responsibility for coordinating the technology and manpower needed to ensure the project’s successful outcome.
In addition to having the needed technical skills, she used considerable people skills to manage the minefields of multiple contractors that had various levels of commitment and capabilities.
George Bredehoft, chief of the E-Commerce Systems and Standards Branch of the Defense Logistics Information Service, called Vidrevich “one of the major driving forces of her company.”
Information Technology Project Manager
Environmental Protection Agency
Cory Wagner does not shy away from taking on responsibilities far beyond what is expected of a GS-9 employee.
Currently, his work involves designing an electronic reporting system for confidential business information as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxic substances program, modernizing reporting processes for the Toxic Release Inventory and many other reporting projects.
“Cory’s initiative on TRI, an annual reporting program of over 70,000 submissions, has established the general acceptance of electronic reporting within the agency and contributed in general to a change in [the] EPA’s culture on electronic data exchange,” said Connie Dwyer, acting associate director of the Information and Exchange Services Division. She thought highly enough of Wagner’s work to nominate him for a Rising Star Award.
Center for National Telecommunications Projects
General Services Administration
Lynnette Williams helps agencies switch their local telecommunications accounts to General Services Administration contracts. She started her career in government two years ago at GSA, where she builds data structures to combine bills from multiple vendors into a single GSA account for one monthly charge.
The Commander, Naval Installations Command had about 1,500 phone lines nationwide and numerous service providers. It had more than 100 phone bills a month.
Williams undertook a project to merge the command’s services by developing business strategies and using innovative tools to manage them.
But her work extended beyond that project. She created processes that are now the standard for all project activities at the Center for National Telecommunications Projects.
Wanda Smith, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Regional Services, said Williams has brought innovation and creativity to the center. “Her curious, energetic and methodical approach to managing projects has been a tremendous benefit to GSA and to the federal IT community as a whole,” Smith said.
Program Examiner for ExpectMore.gov
Office of Management and Budget
The Office of Management and Budget built ExpectMore.gov to publicly report on federal programs’ performance. The Web site is a primary means for tracking improvements and explaining the program assessments to site visitors.
Amy Witte managed the design and launch of the site after being in her position for only two years. She has taken a leadership role in coordinating the thousands of pages of assessments and improvement plans.
Robert Shea, counselor to the deputy director for management at OMB, said Witte pores over pages of text and translates them into understandable language.
“Amy is talented, smart, hardworking but, most importantly, effective,” Shea said.
Southeastern Louisiana University
When Southeastern Louisiana University professor David Wyld looks at a radio frequency identification chip, he sees possibilities that most people inside the government could never begin to imagine.
Andre Honoree, an assistant professor who works with Wyld in the school’s Management Department, said Wyld is studying RFID uses for the Agriculture Department’s National Animal Identification System and other mandates involving counterfeit and expired drugs. The two researchers work together on many projects.
In one project, they are studying the effects of farmers tagging cattle with RFID chips instead of branding their herds, which should let the government trace animal diseases more easily, Honoree said.
“The idea is to combat mad cow disease,” he said. “You wouldn’t have to euthanize tremendous herds. You would know the entire history of where they were.”
Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center
Rodney Young was given a mission. He was part of the team that is seeking to integrate command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on a mobile platform.
As part of that team, he led the engineering effort to put command and control information technology systems into 12 M-1116 Up-Armored Humvees. His program created the first Ku-band satellite IT system that works on the move.
Young often worked long days. Through his efforts, the program’s schedule has been shortened from 18 months to nine months, which will allow his team to deliver new capabilities to warfighters sooner.
“His dedication to this program, his management responsibilities and his contributions led to the completion of this high-visibility, time-constrained project,” said Thomas Bowers, chief of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Command and Control Directorate.