OMB exec brings wide-angle lens to anti-terror unit

Howell follows Kshmendra Paul in moving to ISE

Mike Howell's move to the Information Sharing Environment could be a major enhancement to the info-sharing program, and also to the Obama administration's effort to better understand how the program will operate and help in preparing policy, according to several experts.

OMB officials have a high-level view of how agencies are run,  said Tom McCullough, chairman of the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council’s Enterprise Architecture Committee’s Data Architecture Subcommittee. Howell can bring that broader perspective to the ISE.

With Howell’s move, OMB will have another point of contact inside the program, one who is working at a more granular level than OMB usually gets, McCullough said.

Howell had been OMB's deputy administrator for e-government and information technology since 2008. He is leaving that post to become deputy program manager for the ISE. Federal News Radio first reported the story today.

Related stories:

White House names new chief of terrorism-related info sharing environment

Mike Howell steps down as e-gov deputy administrator at OMB

The ISE is a federal program office that the George W. Bush administration established in 2006 to improve the sharing of terrorism-related information among agencies. Congress had required establishing an office with that mission as part of an intelligence reform law enacted in 2004.

Howell's work at OMB will also help on a broader scale. OMB gives its employees a different perspective than any other agency, said Glenn Schlarman, a former chief of the information policy and technology branch at OMB.

“What I can say is anyone at OMB sees the government in a very broad and strategic way — a view one simply doesn’t get at any other agency,” he said.

OMB employees also seemingly sit above the fray and don’t develop a bias toward a particular agency, he said. It’s a good quality for a worker who has to see the government broadly and without bias.

“I would say OMB is the perfect training ground for succeeding with the sharing environment,” Schlarman said.

The intelligence reform law requires the president to appoint a program manager, with governmentwide authority to manage the ISE and help develop standards and practices for the environment.

In 2006, Bush created the program’s office as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Under the Obama administration, it has remained organizationally in the ODNI. However, there had been an ongoing debate about whether the office should be relocated to the White House.

Nevertheless, to better assist in and oversee ISE’s work, the program manager’s office must have staff with experience in counterterrorism, information sharing, technology, and policy at all levels of government, according to the program’s 2010 annual report to Congress, which was released in July.

The program manager is a former fellow OMB worker, Kshemendra Paul. He was chief architect at OMB before moving to ISE earlier this year.

Today, Vivek Kundra, federal CIO, thanked Howell for his work at OMB.

“We thank Mike Howell for two years of outstanding service as the deputy administrator for e-gov and wish him well in his next post,” he said in a statement.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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