What did you do with your long weekend?

Remember the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend? What did you do with that extra day? Some hearty and caring people from the government information technology community put that time to good use by traveling to Ticuantepe, Nicaragua, a small town outside Managua, to help build a community center.

The group of 20 government and industry people included Dick Burk, chief enterprise architect at the Office of Management and Budget, and Michael Carleton, the General Services Administration’s chief information officer. The group’s leader was Leslie Barry, vice president of government affairs and business development at GTSI, who has traveled to Central America several times. She has led a group of IT people there for the past two years.

The trip is run through the Bridges to Community nonprofit group, which focuses on helping people construct buildings that strengthen communities.

This is no visit to a Nicaraguan resort. The group works.
This year, the group helped build a community center in Las Enramadas, an area a few miles from Las Borgona, Barry said. They helped to build the first story of what will become a two-story community center.

See more photos and hear Barry talk about the trip here.

Follow the money
Many people are watching the Department of Veterans Affairs. Robert Howard, the VA’s CIO, is the only federal CIO who controls all the IT dollars at his agency.

“The VA will be judged pretty harshly if this model doesn’t work, and they’re going to have to work pretty hard at it,” said Bob Woods, president of Topside Consulting and a former VA IT official, who spoke at the Government Information Technology Executive Council’s Information Processing Interagency Conference 2007.
Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, is watching with keen interest. “There is still something of a debate about where the bucks should stop,” she said. “We’re going to see it play out in real life.”

Woods said CIOs can accomplish much more if they have the power of the purse.

“You can get more done with a kind word and a gun than just a kind word,” he said.

Matthews for president?
H. Ross Perot, chairman emeritus at Perot Systems and former presidential candidate, spoke to IPIC attendees about leadership and received a standing ovation. He alluded to the early pioneers who ventured west. “The cowards never started. The weak died along the way. Only the strong survived,” he said.

During a question and answer period, Dan Matthews, vice president of government relations at Lockheed Martin, said to Perot, “The only two people who haven’t announced [they are running for president] are me and you.”

Perot immediately turned the question. “Well, you’ve got the microphone. Go ahead.”

There was no announcement, so we can only assume that we will have to put away our “Matthews for President” signs.

The paparazzi
We’re not stalking Evans. Really.

During her panel at IPIC, Evans was asked what she thinks will surprise her if she goes to industry.
“There is an assumption that I would be interested in working after this job,” she said.

But if she does, she said the big change when one leaves a high-profile job is that people don’t pay as much attention anymore.
If you have a government job, she said, “you have a tendency to think how important you are. The press contributes to that.”

And she said that she has something akin to the paparazzi following her around.

Ah, stalkers.

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