GCN Awards Gala honors the people behind the projects

At last night’s GCN Awards Gala, hundreds of women milled about the Washington Hilton ballroom dressed in flowing chiffon gowns, diamonds and strappy high heels. Brig. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, attending the event via live feed from Qatar, was wearing desert camouflage.

She was the best-dressed woman in the room.

Lawrence, winner of the 2006 DOD Executive of the Year, conversed easily over the satellite feed provided by Tandberg of New York. It was 3 a.m. in Qatar, and temperatures there had recently reached 122 degrees. Lawrence reported that her group had made great strides in increasing its bandwidth, allowing them to move forward into the battlefield.

Another awardee, the late Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, was inducted into the GCN Hall of Fame. The award for Cebrowski, who died last November, was accepted by his daughter, Kristy Niro. A former Navy fighter pilot, Cebrowski had a pilot’s characteristic ability to improvise on the spur of the moment, Niro said during an emotional, though graceful, acceptance. She spoke of how her father applied his priorities of “God, family and faith” to his work. Cebrowski was much more than “the father of net-centric warfare,” Niro said; he also acted as a father to the 19-year-olds on his ships, six months at a time.

Linda Gooden, president of Lockheed Martin Information Technology, introduced a presentation about the 10 GCN Agency Awards by quoting composer John Cage: “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones.”

GCN’s Civilian Executive of the Year, the Government Printing Office’s Bruce James, described how he received his job offer five years ago. The phone rang, and it was Jan Williams, who worked for the president. James’ heart skipped a beat. A cabinet position, perhaps? No, it was an offer to be the public printer. But James considers the story of the transformation of GPO from behind-the-times to full partner with the agencies it serves a remarkable one.

Industry Executive of the Year, Stephen J. Rohleder, chief operating officer of Accenture, said his “aspiration is to be the person that my dog thinks I am” and talked about the importance of “staying ahead of the innovation curve.”

Mark Forman, inducted into the GCN Hall of Fame, said that when he came to Washington 20 years ago as an intern, he was “a skinny, nerdy kid from Toledo, Ohio.” The former administrator for e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget caught a passion for the city and stayed.

Guests fought the urge to jitterbug to the toe-tapping swing tunes provided by the Doc Scantlin Orchestra. It could have been 1941 and Benny Goodman playing “Sing! Sing! Sing!” (until somebody’s cell phone rang).

“The evening made me proud to be associated with the kind of public servants that were honored tonight,” said Marty Wagner, deputy commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

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