Clerical error holds up Army CIO confirmation

Ask Army officials who’s in charge of the chief information officer’s office, and they’ll say Vernon Bettencourt holds the reins there while the Army awaits the Senate’s confirmation of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson. What they might not say is that senators did their part in March.

On Feb. 15, President Bush nominated Sorenson to succeed Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle as the Army’s next CIO. The nomination included a promotion to the rank of lieutenant general. The Senate confirmed Sorenson as a three-star officer on March 29, according to the Congressional Record.

The nomination, promotion and confirmation of senior military leaders usually follows a carefully orchestrated timeline so incoming officers can replace outgoing ones without long transition times.

Yet six months after his promotion, Sorenson still goes by major general, and he was announced with the title of special assistant to the Army Chief of Staff at an AFCEA International luncheon last week.

Army officials told Federal Computer Week today that they made a mistake when they submitted the paperwork for Sorenson’s nomination early this year. The documents the Army submitted said Sorenson would become a deputy chief of staff and chief information officer. However, unlike other directorates on the Army staff, the head of the CIO branch is not considered a deputy chief of staff.

Having caught the error after confirming Sorenson, lawmakers said they want to go through the nomination process again.

“Nobody caught it before he was confirmed, which would have been a good time,” Army spokeswoman Margaret McBride said.

Officials have submitted another nomination for Sorenson, she said, adding that they are hopeful that the Senate will act on the second nomination soon.

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