2019 Government Eagle Award
Margie Graves: Making modernization happen
Federal IT found its groove in 2018, and Margie Graves was in the middle of it.
There were still challenges, of course. Many agencies' Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions plans were slow in coming, some cloud migrations saw foot-dragging, and budget stalemates complicated almost everything. But there was a plan for IT management and modernization, and both the guidance and execution support from the Office of Management and Budget came with unusual clarity and coherence.
Graves, deputy federal CIO, won't take credit herself, but agency and industry leaders alike said she has been essential to keeping the many pieces in alignment.
"Margie has the technical expertise to go deep," one Federal 100 judge said, "but she doesn't lose sight of the bigger picture, and she keeps others focused on that as well."
Maintaining that focus was no small task in a year when that big picture included the Technology Modernization Fund, a shift to "cloud smart," continued adoption of the Technology Business Management framework and a President's Management Agenda that has IT at its core. But Graves, who came to government in 2003 to help organize and integrate the many agencies that now make up the Department of Homeland Security, has spent her entire career honing the required skills.
In the private sector, she specialized in systems engineering and post-merger integration. At the Transportation Security Administration and then as deputy CIO at DHS, she went deep into the weeds of agency IT operations. Thrust unexpectedly into the acting CIO role at DHS in 2013, she navigated a politically charged environment to lead for nearly a year.
In 2016, Graves came to OMB as a temporary replacement for then-Deputy CIO Lisa Schlosser, who shifted to the Office of Personnel Management in the wake of that agency's disastrous data breach. (Graves told FCW at the time how much she enjoyed pivoting to policy and how her DHS experience helped ground that governmentwide work.) She was named to the deputy job on a permanent basis several months later and served as acting federal CIO for the first year of the Trump administration.
When U.S. CIO Suzette Kent was appointed, Graves provided critical continuity and institutional knowledge, and she redoubled her focus on implementation. As she noted during a recent panel discussion, "Every agency is going to have to march down this pathway in a prioritized manner." And Graves is making sure that both the path and priorities are clear.
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.
Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.
Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.
Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.