People on the move, events in the news

EVENTS WE ATTENDED

The hot ticket in federal IT this week was — what else? — the Hot Ticket Awards, the annual soiree that Northern Virginia Technology Council President Bobbie Kilberg hosts at her McLean, Va., home. 

More than 550 technology executives turned out for the event — it’s a big house — which recognizes up-and-coming and entrepreneurial technology firms.

Kilberg used the event to announce NVTC’s recent commitment to promote Virginia’s wine industry as a creator of jobs and revenue in the state by saying NVTC would serve only Virginia wines at all its events. And she issued a friendly challenge to the other trade and membership associations in Virginia to join NVTC in this initiative.

William Brougham, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director of network services, recently said the chances of the Defense Department outsourcing data centers are slim, but one should never say never. He spoke during a panel discussion about real-time data center services sponsored by Federal Computer Week and Juniper Network.

Well, he didn't use those exact words. But that was the gist. After answering several questions related to consolidation with firm statements that DOD was not interested in outsourcing, he slipped this into remarks late in his presentation: “The trend today is [to keep data centers] on bases. The trend tomorrow may be different.… If somebody has a better way of doing [things] that is more secure and provides us with better capabilities, we want to know about that.”

COMMUNITY

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has launched a Facebook page that it wants people to “like” so they can follow the committee on the social network.

Separately, Facebook announced last month that it created the “Congress on Facebook” page to highlight innovative uses of its site by members of Congress.

John Pistole is the new administrator of the Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Security Administration. The Senate unanimously confirmed Pistole June 25.

To take on the new job, Pistole left his position as a deputy director at the FBI, a job he held since 2004. Before that, Pistole worked in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and was also executive assistant director of counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

He was the Obama administration's third nominee for TSA's top job. The previous two nominees didn’t make it through the Senate’s confirmation process.

The Federal Communications Commission has chosen Douglas Sicker to be its chief technologist. Sicker, who is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, previously was chief of FCC's Network Technology Division.

Most people go where the money is, but Lawrence Gross is moving away from the Treasury Department.

Gross is leaving his job as Treasury’s associate chief information officer for e-government to be deputy CIO at the Interior Department. In the past two months, Interior has had some major changes at its CIO office. In May, CIO Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, left to be deputy associate administrator of innovative technologies at the General Services Administration.

Then Bernard Mazer was named CIO.

Symantec has announced the winners of its 2010 Cyber 7 Awards, which go to people who have started innovative programs that deal with governmental cybersecurity problems. Nominees for the award had to be local, state or federal officials or people who work in academia. The winners were chosen by Symantec’s Government Symposium Advisory Panel and announced at the company's Government Symposium 2010 in Washington June 22.

The winners are:

  • Trent Carpenter, Michigan's chief information security officer.
  • Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.).
  • Michael Dent, CISO for Fairfax County, Va.
  • William Pelgrin, director of New York State's Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination and leader of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
  • Doug Jacobson, director of Iowa State University’s Information Assurance Center.
  • Chuck McGann, CISO at the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Ron Ross, senior computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

How to testify before Congress

Officials have their own approaches to dealing with the pressure of testifying before a congressional committee. For some, it’s unnerving and one of the worst parts of the job. Officials can never be fully prepared. They can only study, study, study and hope they studied the right information.

Al Burman, president of Jefferson Solutions, testified more than 45 times during his tenure as administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the early 1990s. In the process, he developed two to-dos before any hearing. Here are his tips, in case you're ever called to testify.

1. Read the relevant media outlets to get a good sense of what else is going on in the world that could potentially come up during questioning. Officials must be prepared for any question. To update Burman's list, we'd add watching some cable news and browsing informative Web sites. If your issue is big enough to be discussed on political blogs, they can give you an idea of how members of each party are likely to approach you in their questioning.

2. Be prepared to defer. If a lawmaker asks a question that you’re uncertain how to answer, it's best to simply say, “I’ll get back to you on that.” An official only gets in trouble by trying to answer a question he or she knows little about, Burman said. We add: Deliver on the promise to get back to the member of Congress. Send a written response as soon as you've had time to research the question and formulate a good answer.

OVERHEARD

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, describing herself as someone who enjoys government contracting policy:

“To really kind of get into the arcane and acronym-laden world of interagency contracting, you have to have tenacity, perseverance and maybe a screw loose.” 

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, in a conversation with Todd Park, chief technology officer of the Health and Human Services department:

“I prefer to think of myself as the George Clooney of open government, but realistically I’m more like the George Costanza of open government.”

Steven Squyres, principal investigator at NASA, on the tire tracks left by a Mars rover exploring the Victoria Crater:

“I was promised the tracks would spell ‘Hi, Steve’ when we were done.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

July 20: Input will host a discussion on the Transportation Department’s technology plans and needs, featuring the Transportation Department's chief information officer, Nitin Pradhan. The breakfast seminar opens for registration at 7 a.m. at the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Va.

July 27: Input will host a discussion titled, “The Future of Health Care: Impact on Health IT and Beyond.” Speakers include Michael Carleton, CIO at the Health and Human Services Department, and Paul Tibbits, deputy CIO at the Veterans Affairs Department. The breakfast seminar opens for registration at 7 a.m. at the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Va.

OUR EVENTS

Virtual FOSE is coming July 21. The online event features a keynote address by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.org and a 2010 Federal 100 award winner. Participants will also be able to watch sessions from the FOSE trade show that was held in March.

For more information, including the complete agenda, go to www.FOSE.com.


 

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