Paul Brubaker: Budget-conscious before it was cool

Paul Brubaker - photo source: Cisco

Paul Brubaker's role in making the Clinger-Cohen Act a reality is one of the highlights of his lengthy career.

When Paul Brubaker went to work at the Defense Department in January, he brought a wealth of experience with him. He has a long track record of work in and out of government. The role that might be its capstone is his time as minority staff director of the Senate Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee, where he spearheaded the creation and passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Now he is DOD's director of planning and performance management on the staff of Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath.

puzzle logo

A look at little-known agency experts who are pushing critical broad-based initiatives, plus other leaders whose influence bears watching.

"What makes Paul unique is the diversity of experience he's had," said Kent Schneider, president and CEO of AFCEA International. "He's one of those guys who really get how government works, which is really important. You can be in this town a long time and not really understand how government works, if you haven't seen it from several perspectives."

Brubaker's career has not taken the typical arc in which someone works for the government for 20 or 30 years and then "retires" to a job in the private sector. Instead, his history weaves between the two worlds and includes a variety of positions in both sectors, including a presidential appointment as deputy CIO/deputy assistant secretary of defense in 1999.

Now he is back at DOD at a time when budgets are tight and spending discipline is at a premium. Brubaker says his hopscotch résumé has been the perfect preparation for the job. And the current interest in cost savings and efficiencies is reminiscent of his early work with the Government Accountability Office, the Clinger-Cohen bill and DOD. It "was kind of the hallmark of my government career before," he said.

Brubaker speaks of "driving cost visibility into the government, driving cost savings into the government" with the familiarity of one who has advocated just that for his entire career. When other officials note the importance of the return on investment, he said, "that ROI mantra is something I've been talking about for 20 years."

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.


  • People
    Federal CIO Suzette Kent

    Federal CIO Kent to exit in July

    During her tenure, Suzette Kent pushed on policies including Trusted Internet Connection, identity management and the creation of the Chief Data Officers Council

  • Defense
    Essye Miller, Director at Defense Information Management, speaks during the Breaking the Gender Barrier panel at the Air Space, Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

    Essye Miller: The exit interview

    Essye Miller, DOD's outgoing principal deputy CIO, talks about COVID, the state of the tech workforce and the hard conversations DOD has to have to prepare personnel for the future.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.