News in Brief

GSA's Dorris honored, Ambrose moves to VA and more

GSA's Martha Dorris (center) received the John J. Franke Award for being "an acknowledged thought leader and committed public servant."

Dorris wins ACT-IAC's 2015 Franke Award

The General Services Administration's Martha Dorris is ACT-IAC's 2015 John J. Franke Award winner.

Dorris, a career public servant who took her first government job at age 18, recently moved from GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies to the Federal Acquisition Service, where she is now director of strategic programs.

Mary Davie, Dorris' new boss at FAS and a former Franke Award winner, described Dorris as "an acknowledged thought leader and committed public servant who encourages collaboration and supports her colleagues, taking risks to improve the customer experience."

The Franke award is named for someone with a similar reputation. John J. Franke was a Marine, businessman and local politician before shifting to a highly effective career in federal government service. He was a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, assistant secretary for administration at the Education Department and director of the Federal Quality Institute. Franke died in 1991.

In addition to Davie, past Franke Award winners Ira Hobbs, Dave McClure and Jim Williams were on stage at the ACT-IAC's Management of Change conference to present Dorris with the award.

Previous winners also include Lisa Schlosser, John Okay, Roger Baker, John Johnson, Karen Evans and David Wennergren.

VA taps State's Ambrose for deputy CIO slot

Greg Ambrose is moving to the Department of Veterans Affairs to take over the deputy CIO for product development slot that has been open since Lorraine Landfried's departure in July 2014. Ambrose, a career IT official, is currently director of consular systems and technology at the State Department.

He has been working on a modernization project at State that involves taking the Consular Consolidated Database, a massive system of 12 databases used to process passport and visa applications, from Windows 2003 to Linux. He is also moving the data warehouse to the more powerful Oracle 11g platform. The goal is to give the stovepiped legacy systems a single look and feel.

On WJLA's "Government Matters" program in April, Ambrose said he expects the move from Windows 2003 to be completed by the time Microsoft stops supporting the operating system in July.

State is also making some changes to improve services for end users. In July, officials will launch a pilot program in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Digital Service to modernize the paper-based process of applying for immigrant visas. State officials also plan to offer online passport renewals by the end of 2015.

Last July, Ambrose led State's response to a systemwide data warehouse crash that left the government unable to handle requests for three days. It took officials two weeks to clear the backlog.

According to a State Department email shared with FCW, Ambrose will leave his current job on June 11. Kenneth Reynolds, Ambrose's deputy in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, will replace him on an acting basis.

Kendall seeks answers from McCain

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, has worked closely with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on acquisition legislation, but Kendall said that has not been the case with Thornberry's counterpart in the Senate, John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said he has not spoken with McCain since November about the lawmaker's acquisition proposals, which could be folded into this year's defense authorization bill.

"Sen. McCain has had a more closed process so far, and we're hoping to have a stronger dialogue with him," Kendall said at a May 19 breakfast hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

He also told reporters he had questions for McCain about a potential delegation of acquisition authority to the service chiefs that might be in the senator's bill.

Both the defense authorization bill that passed the House last week and the one on tap in the Senate would grant the service chiefs a greater role in the acquisition process, something Kendall has warned against.

Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted its authorization bill out of committee. Julie Tarallo, a spokeswoman for McCain, said the earliest the committee expects the full chamber to vote on the bill is next month. A McCain aide was unaware of any meetings scheduled between McCain and Kendall before then.

Justice indicts six Chinese nationals for 'economic espionage'

A Chinese professor is among six people the Justice Department has indicted on charges of stealing trade secrets. The indictment, which officials unsealed May 19, alleges that Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang and five others were part of a "long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the [Chinese] government," according to a department statement.

Zhang and another defendant, Wei Pang, have conducted research funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to the indictment. Pang went on to work for Avago Technologies, while Zhang worked for Skyworks Solutions, the document states. Those two firms own the trade secrets the defendants are charged with stealing.

"As today's case demonstrates, sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology," said Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, in a statement.

This is at least the third time in the past year that the Justice Department has indicted a Chinese national for economic espionage.

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