GSA, DCMA honored for EA accomplishments

The General Services Administration and the Defense Contract Management Agency were among the winners of this year's Excellence in Enterprise Architecture Awards. GSA was recognized for leadership in EA-driven results, while DCMA received an award for leadership in using EA to transform government.

GSA's application rationalization project, led by Chief Enterprise Architect Kevin Wince, trimmed 30 applications from the agency's portfolio and produced a nearly 1,600 percent return on investment. DCMA, led by Chief Enterprise Architect Theon Danet, was honored for its overall achievements in using EA, including its commitment to monitoring technology markets.

The awards recognize the impact of EA best practices on efficiency and innovation in government systems. Gopala Krishna Behara won the only award for individual achievement and was inducted into the Enterprise Architecture Hall of Fame. Behara is a senior enterprise architect at Wipro, a multinational IT consulting and systems integration services company.

The awards are presented by FCW parent company 1105 Media, the Federated Enterprise Architecture Certification Institute and Zachman International. The full list of winners includes:

Leadership in Enterprise Architecture-Driven Results — Government Project, Defense

Chemical and Biological Early Warning Experiment, Battelle and the Joint Experimentation and Analysis Division

Katie Froneberger
Mitch Biondich
Madeline Cavileer

Leadership in Enterprise Architecture-Driven Results — Government Project, Civilian

Application Rationalization, General Services Administration

Kevin Wince
Kathryn Palmer
Christopher Brause

Leadership in Government Transformation using EA — Government Project, Civilian

Smart Capability Investments, Dubai Customs

Hussam Juma
Ahmad Khatib
Omar Alqaryouti
Mohamed Zaki
Mohamed Akoub

Leadership in Government Transformation using EA — Government Project, Defense

Defense Contract Management Agency

Theon Danet
Heryzin Baskerville
Richard Shipmon
Christina Payette
Karen Noland
Charles Collins
Sidney Antommarchi
Peter Wilson
John Kelly
Shawn Tilley
Daniel Askin

Leadership in Enterprise Transformation using EA — Industry

European Air Traffic Management Architecture, European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation and NATS Ltd.

Tony Vaudrey
Allen Clarke
Philippe Naves
Mariya Koleva
Siegfired Schäfer
Niklas Häggström
Claus Scheuren
Jun Chen Xu
Ciro Pappagallo

EA Hall of Fame — Individual Leadership in EA Practice, Promotion and Professionalization

Gopala Krishna Behara, Wipro

Posted by Aleida Fernandez on Oct 08, 2015 at 11:17 AM0 comments

Obama names new watchdog at VA

VA logo

President Barack Obama on Oct. 2 named Michael J. Missal to take over the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Missal, a partner at the Washington, D.C., firm of K&L Gates, has experience conducting internal investigations on behalf of corporate clients, including firms in financial services, government contracting, and technology. He assisted in the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee investigation of former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), and was the top lawyer on the independent review panel that examined claims by the TV program "60 Minutes" about former President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.

The VA Office of Inspector General has been without a Senate-confirmed head since January 2014. Recent acting director Richard Griffin stepped down in July, in the wake of criticism that he whitewashed internal probes of agency personnel, particularly in the investigations arising from whistleblower allegations of tampering with scheduling software at VA medical centers.

Linda Halliday currently leads the department as Deputy IG.

In a Sept. 22 hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, three whistleblowers alleged retaliation and intimidation by OIG investigators.

"For far too long, the VA OIG's lack of permanent leadership has compromised veteran care, fostered a culture of whistleblower retaliation within the agency, and compromised the independence of the VA's chief watchdog," committee chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement regarding the nomination. "Since January, I have been calling on President Obama to appoint a permanent VA inspector general, and I am pleased that he finally has nominated one today."

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 02, 2015 at 2:59 PM2 comments

Martha Dorris is leaving GSA

Martha Dorris, formerly of GSA.

Longtime federal IT leader, Martha Dorris, is retiring from government service on Oct. 31. (Photo by Zaid Hamid)

Martha Dorris is stepping down.

Dorris, a career public servant who is currently director of strategic programs within the General Services Administration's Office of Integrated Technology Services, told her staff on Sept. 30 that she will retire from government on Oct. 31.

"GSA has been like my second home," Dorris, who took her first government job at age 18, told FCW. "I've grown up here." But she had known for some time that she wanted to try her hand in the private sector, and felt that after 34 years of service, it was high time.

"I've had an entrepreneurial kind of mindset and spirit for a long time," Dorris said, noting that she comes from a family of small business owners. While she's been careful to "not get too far ahead of myself" before formally exiting government, a firm of her own is on the drawing board -- with customer experience, acquisition and digital service all very much part of the business plan.

Dorris had moved into her current job in April, after working in GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies for more than a decade. The role in the Office of Integrated Technology Services was always intended to be relatively short-term, she explained -- "they knew what my plans were" -- but it was a chance to learn "a whole new area and space," and to "bring the customer focus ... and really help to structure and design the category management side of the ITS org chart."

A strong advocate for customer-centric government and cross-agency collaboration, Dorris was one of GSA's earliest proponents of journey-mapping and other customer-experience design efforts for federal IT projects. And she helped create GSA's Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, with the goal of helping governments at all levels -- both in the U.S. and internationally -- to better work together.

A two-time Federal 100 Award winner, Dorris also received ACT-IAC's 2015 John J. Franke Award, and has been recognized with host of other honors in the federal IT community. And though she's planning some big trips for November and January, she's certainly not stepping away from federal IT.

"I really think I can make as big a difference on the outside as I did on the inside," Dorris said.

And while leaving GSA after all these years is a little scary, she added, one worry that's not on her list is whether the government efforts she's led will maintain their momentum.

"We've been talking about the silver tsunami for a long time, but it didn't really happen," Dorris said, referring to the concern that a wave of retirements will rob agencies of critical IT expertise. "People will rise to the occasion. They just need the opportunity to show what they can do."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Sep 30, 2015 at 11:52 AM1 comments

Wynn takes the CIO reins at NASA

Renee Wynn (Photo: Zaid Hamid)

Renee Wynn took over NASA's IT operations on Sept. 28 -- a few days ahead of schedule, according to the space agency.

Prior to joining NASA in July as deputy CIO, Wynn served 25 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, where her final position was acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information.

The agency had announced earlier in September that CIO Larry Sweet, who joined NASA in 1987, was set to retire on Nov. 30 -- adding that for the next two months, he would work with the Office of the NASA administrator to ensure a smooth transition of the CIO duties to Wynn.

The timetable for Wynn's promotion was accelerated when Sweet was assigned to work on a special project at the request of the Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, according to a NASA source.

As the top IT official, Wynn is responsible for ensuring IT assets are in line with federal policies, procedures and legislation, per a NASA press release. She will be focused on some of the same areas Sweet had stressed, including increasing collaboration among NASA's centers and with the other executive branch agencies, strengthening IT security posture, optimizing costs of current programs, maximizing the use of Enterprise and shared services, and providing innovation through data analytics and visualization.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM0 comments

DOE tech officer set to leave

Peter Tseronis, previously the associate CIO and CTO for the Department of Energy.

DOE CTO Peter Tseronis is a three-time Federal 100 winner.

Peter Tseronis, the Department of Energy’s CTO and associate CIO for technology and innovation, is leaving his post at the end of October.

Tseronis has been a federal employee for more than 24 years across three departments, including most recently as the Energy Department’s chief technology officer, DOE said in a statement to FCW. 

Tseronis announced his plans to leave late last week, but didn’t say where he was going next. “Effective November 1, 2015, I will begin a new chapter in my professional life as a member of the private sector,” he wrote in a LinkedIn notice.

Tseronis is a three-time Federal 100 honoree, winning in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 28, 2015 at 10:23 AM0 comments

NTSB looking for a new CIO

help wanted sign

The National Transportation Safety Board is looking for a new CIO.

The agency has a posting on USAJobs for the Washington, D.C.-based Senior Executive Service position, with a salary range of $121,956 to $183,300.

The CIO will be responsible for leading support of the IT needs of a geographically dispersed, constantly-on-call workforce, the posting noted.

Former NTSB CIO Robert Scherer departed in April to become CIO at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Scherer began his federal career in 1985, and became NTSB CIO in February 2007.

Posted by Zach Noble on Sep 22, 2015 at 2:40 PM0 comments

DOE CISO heads to Commerce

Rod Turk, previously the Department of Energy's Chief Information Security Officer.

Rod Turk has returned to the Commerce Department as CISO, after a year at the Department of Energy.

The Department of Energy’s chief information security officer has departed for a similar post at the Commerce Department.

Rod Turk, whose official title at DOE was associate chief information officer for cybersecurity, managed the department’s enterprise cybersecurity program.

Turk will serve as CISO at the Commerce Department, where he had been prior to joining DOE a year ago.

DOE said his first day in the new job is Sept. 8.

At the Energy Department, Turk advised the CIO and senior officials on cybersecurity and risk management, as well as providing executive leadership for joint agency and administration cybersecurity initiatives such as the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.

Prior to arriving at DOE in 2014, Turk managed and oversaw the Department of Commerce's compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and implementation of IT security best practices.

Turk joined the Senior Executive Service with the Transportation Security Administration in September 2004 and has also served as CISO at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 08, 2015 at 10:10 AM0 comments

Library of Congress names new CIO

Shutterstock image: revolving door.

Bernard A. Barton Jr. is taking over the CIO post at the Library of Congress, effective Sept. 8. Barton comes to the library from the Department of Defense. Until recently, Barton was the CIO and deputy administrator of the Defense Technical Information Center, a repository of research and technical information.

“Mr. Barton brings to the Library of Congress the knowledge, expertise and leadership skills crucial to the institution’s mission of serving Congress and the American people in an age of rapidly evolving information technology," said Librarian James H. Billington. "He has a demonstrated, outstanding record of providing executive-level direction in the planning, implementation and evaluation of long-term information-technology operations and strategy."

The Library of Congress has been without a permanent CIO since 2012. A March 2015 Government Accountability report found that the library lacked a strategic plan for the deployment of its $119 million IT budget. Most recently, as FCW first reported, the Copyright Office, housed at the Library of Congress, suffered a week-long outage of its online copyright registration system as the result of an equipment failure that followed electrical maintenance. That system was back online Sept. 6, according to an LOC press release.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 08, 2015 at 1:18 PM0 comments

Facebook's Miller named first White House product director

Josh Miller, the first product director of the White House.

Josh Miller, the White House's first product director, was a Senate intern in 2009. (Josh Miller)

Facebook veteran Josh Miller is joining the Obama administration as the White House’s first director of product.

“I’m as giddy, wide-eyed, and determined as ever,” Miller wrote in a blog post announcing his move.

He said Sept. 1 was his first day on the job.

Miller is young (he noted that 2008 was the first election for which he was old enough to vote) and has focused on the social web during his nascent career. He dropped out of Princeton to dedicate himself to conversation startup Branch, then joined Facebook when the social giant acquired Branch in January 2014.

He indicated that he plans to bring that tech-powered-communication focus to his White House role.

“Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you?” he asked. “Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks?”

He pointed to online petitions and Twitter engagement as examples of “amazing” government progress, and promised more to come.

As Quartz noted, Miller was mentored by Twitter veteran Jason Goldman, who became the White House's first chief digital officer in March. Miller will report to Goldman in his new post, a White House spokesperson said.

“As the White House's first director of product, his focus will be on prioritizing the experience of our users -- the American people -- across our platforms of engagement,” the White House said in an emailed statement. “He'll also draw on his background building a company and in industry to infuse an entrepreneurial perspective into our processes and approach to work.”

Miller, Goldman and former Google executive Megan Smith are just a few of the techies who have made the jump from big private tech firms to Uncle Sam’s digital team recently.

Miller may be new to the role, but he’s not new to Washington; he noted that he served as a Senate intern in 2009.

Posted by Zach Noble on Sep 01, 2015 at 11:28 AM0 comments

Brubaker joins IT Cadre

Paul Brubaker

Paul Brubaker

Paul Brubaker is joining Ashburn, Va.-based IT Cadre as vice president, strategic accounts and customer strategy. An official announcement by the company, which does enterprise systems engineering and software development for both federal agencies and commercial clients, is expected on Aug. 25.

Brubaker confirmed the move to FCW, and said he'd long been an admirer of IT Cadre's "low key" but effective approach. "I was incredibly impressed by the work they did for me [at the Defense Department]," he added.

Brubaker, a two-time winner of FCW's Federal 100 award, has held a number of leadership positions in both government and the private sector. He held executive branch posts under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- most recently as director of planning and performance management in DOD's Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer.

Earlier in his career, Brubaker served as an evaluator with what was then known as the General Accounting Office, and as an investigator, deputy staff director and minority staff director of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management -- where he worked with then-Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) in the effort to enact the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Brubaker left the Pentagon in May 2014 to join AirWatch by VMware as director for U.S. federal government. He subsequently left AirWatch earlier this summer.

For IT Cadre, the hire comes on the heels of several other management shuffles. The firm will have to share Brubaker's attention for at least the next few months, however, and possibly longer: Brubaker is on the ballot this fall in Virginia's 86th District for an open House of Delegates seat.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 25, 2015 at 5:59 AM1 comments

Holgate to depart ATF

Rick Holgate

Rick Holgate, the CIO of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a longtime leader in the federal technology community, is leaving government service to take a post as a federal analyst with Gartner.

In addition to his work at ATF, Holgate served as president of the American Council on Technology, the government side of the ACT-IAC group. Before joining ATF in 2009, Holgate was Assistant Director for IT and Command Information Officer at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He is a two-time winner for FCW's Federal 100 award.

Holgate's wife Laura Holgate was recently nominated by President Obama to serve as U.S. Representative to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, an important post in implementing and overseeing the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. She will have the rank of ambassador, and the position requires Senate confirmation.

Rick Holgate will work for Gartner from Austria, according to an email he sent to colleagues announcing his pending departure.

"Though it's with some significant regret I'm leaving the ATF family, the DOJ community, and federal service, I'm excited to join Gartner and for their willingness to support a move to Vienna. I'll still be a member of the federal community at large, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure Gartner’s research is as relevant, timely, and usable as it can be in the federal space (I reserve the right to reach out to you for your suggestions!). And I’ll still be active in the ACT-IAC community, as well," Holgate wrote.

Holgate, one of the more active agency CIOs on Twitter, had hinted in early August that his wife's nomination could require some changes:

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 24, 2015 at 5:18 AM0 comments

USPTO hoping for some iconic collaboration

Patent Icon - Dan Hetteix / The Noun Project

(Dan Hetteix / The Noun Project)

Agency-sponsored hackathons and datapaloozas are old hat, but how about an iconathon?

That's what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is hosting on Aug. 28, with the goal of creating "a set of internationally recognizable icons that will help increase communication around intellectual property." Concepts in need of iconification include infringement, trade secrets, prior art, inventions, counterfeiting and several different types of patents.

And while USPTO's mission centers on securing and protecting intellectual property, any icons that come out of the five-hour session will be released into the public domain.

The agency is collaborating with the Noun Project -- a firm devoted to building a global library of icons and symbols that has been holding iconathons since 2011. AIGA DC, an association for design professionals, and Code for NOVA, a local offshoot of Code for America, are also participating.

USPTO Deputy Director Russ Sliffer will give a talk on intellectual property, and participants will then work in small groups that include both designers and IP experts -- the invitation stresses that "everyone will be able to participate and contribute – no art skills necessary!"

More details and an RSVP form can be found on the USPTO website.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 21, 2015 at 8:14 AM0 comments

Millennium Challenge Corporation needs a CIO

help wanted sign

A U.S. foreign aid agency helping lead the fight against global poverty is looking for a new CIO.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s mission is to provide grants to developing countries committed to good governance and economic freedom in order to improve the lives of the world’s poor.

The MCC is looking to pay $125,000 to $168,317 to a candidate who will serve as a key member of the Department of Administration and Finance management team “with responsibility for providing strategic, compliance and operational expertise on matters relating to MCC’s information technology and privacy programs and operations.”

Some of the duties outlined in the job notice include serving as the principal advisor to the A&F vice president and MCC senior staff on technology infrastructure, ensuring compliance with all federal cybersecurity regulations, and keeping the technology current and on platforms that improve productivity. The ideal candidate would also have significant skills in management.

In order to qualify for the post, candidates must be U.S. citizens and able to obtain and maintain a federal security clearance.

Posted by Bianca Spinosa on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:10 AM0 comments

Out-of-sight CIO resigns over the weekend, posts new job to LinkedIn

LinkedIn screenshot: Barry West's LinkedIn update (08.17.2015).

Barry West's unexplained absence from FDIC came to an end over the weekend, when he updated his LinkedIn page to reflect his new role as president of Mason Harriman Group. (Barry West / LinkedIn)

Barry West, the long-absent Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation CIO, has resigned. He seems to have quietly made a move to greener pastures.

After going on leave in his FDIC role on or before June 4, West spent more than two months missing before changing his LinkedIn page at some point over the August 15-16 weekend to reflect a new position: president at Mason Harriman Group, a firm that connects retired CXOs with government and industry.

It’s unclear when exactly the update was made, or whether West personally made it.

He was still listed as the CIO on the FDIC website on the morning of Aug. 17, but FDIC spokesperson Barbara Hagenbaugh confirmed that he resigned effective Aug. 15.

Hagenbaugh has consistently declined to say whether West was on paid administrative leave, despite Federal News Radio reporting on multiple occasions that it was administrative leave.

Before coming to FDIC, West served as CIO for the National Weather Service, FEMA, the Commerce Department and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Hagenbaugh said that Acting Chief Information Officer Martin Henning, who was doing West’s work during his absence, would continue to handle the job as a permanent replacement was sought.

Neither West nor Mason Harriman immediately responded to requests for comment.

Posted by Zach Noble on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:48 AM0 comments

NTEU elects new president


Tony Reardon has been the No. 2 official at the NTEU since 2013.

Tony Reardon was elected the next president of the National Treasury Employees Union on Aug. 11, the union announced.

The 25-year NTEU veteran has served as the union’s No. 2 since 2013, and will replace outgoing National President Colleen Kelley.

“I am committed to building on Colleen’s legacy and strengthening NTEU’s role as the voice of the federal workforce on Capitol Hill, at the agencies, in the media and in the courts,” Reardon said in a statement.

Another NTEU veteran, Jim Bailey, was elected to take over the national executive vice president role Reardon will be vacating.

Both men will be sworn in Aug. 13, the final day of NTEU’s 55th national convention.

Kelley, who is retiring, served as NTEU president since 1999, and has recently taken a prominent role in holding the Office of Personnel Management to account for the breaches that exposed tens of millions of current and former feds’ personal information.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

Posted by Zach Noble on Aug 11, 2015 at 3:01 PM0 comments

NARA's new FOIA ombudsman settles in

revolving door

James Holzer is the new head of the Office of Government and Information Services, an office inside the National Archives and Records Administration charged with oversight of agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and government-wide FOIA policies. His first day on the job was Aug. 10.

The post has been vacant since November 2014, when Miriam Nesbit, the first person to hold the job of OGIS director, retired from federal service.

"Dr. Holzer's experience administering FOIA and his demonstrated commitment to transparency will benefit OGIS, the National Archives, and the American public," National Archivist David S. Ferriero said in a statement.

Holzer comes to NARA from the Department of Homeland Security, where he served as senior director of FOIA operations and as an advisor to top DHS officials on Privacy Act and FOIA compliance. At DHS, Holzer implemented a system of tracking and managing FOIA requests made to the agency’s many large components at an enterprise level. Holzer served in the Air Force for 13 years before his work at DHS, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2007.

DHS has the busiest FOIA operation in the federal government, in large part because of demands for immigration data. FOIA processing at DHS was among the most improved in the federal government from 2014 to 2015, per a report by the Center for Effective Government. DHS was tabbed as a top performer for its disclosure rules and useful FOIA website. However, DHS ranked near the bottom for timely responses to FOIA requests and in its efforts to reduce its backlog, as well as for actually releasing information to requestors.

The OGIS director also serves as chair of the FOIA Advisory Committee, a group that mixes government officials and representatives of the requestor community, including nonprofit government watchdog groups, journalists and others, which is charged with developing policy recommendations. The job also includes providing mediation services between agencies and requestors to resolve disputes outside of the courts.

Ferriero also announced the appointment of Oliver Potts as director of the Federal Register, which manages the production and publication of proposed federal regulations, public meeting notices, executive orders and other documents. Potts also assumed his new duties Aug. 10.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 10, 2015 at 10:37 AM0 comments

VA CISO Lowe retires

Stan Lowe, who worked at VA for 25 years is retiring Aug. 22.

Another top IT official is departing the executive ranks at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Stan Lowe, the agency's chief information security officer and third-ranking technology official will retire from federal service Aug. 22. Lowe served at VA for 25 years.

The move comes a day after Deputy CIO Stephen Warren, who led IT at VA on an acting basis for more than two-and-a-half years, announced his move to take on the CIO post at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in the Treasury Department.

The shakeup comes as new CIO LaVerne Council, who started work in early July, begins to put her stamp on the $4 billion IT department charged with supporting the technology that serves VA staff and, increasingly, offers direct access for America's veterans to benefits and services. In her first move, she announced the formation of a team to develop a new cybersecurity strategy for the agency to be led by VA program manager Susan McHugh-Polley.

Lowe led IT security at VA during a time when the agency was trying to restore its reputation after several key incidents involving lost or compromised data, failing grades on information security from the VA's inspector general, and attacks from nation-state sponsored hackers. The Einstein 3 network defense system was activated at VA on Lowe's watch, and he presided over efforts to encrypt 100 percent of the desktops and laptops connected to VA networks.

"Our workforce has done an outstanding job in the face of significant adversity. In two and a half years, we have made more strides towards improving VA’s information security posture than ever before. These achievements have been recognized externally by our peers and internally by our customers," Lowe wrote in an email to colleagues obtained by FCW.

There's no word yet on a replacement.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 07, 2015 at 8:37 AM8 comments

IARPA gets a new director

Dr. Jason Matheny, IARPA Director

Jason Matheny was formerly head of IARPA's Office for Anticipating Surprise. (Jason Matheny / IARPA)

Jason Matheny is the new head of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the intelligence community’s R&D arm.

Matheny previously served as head of IARPA’s Office for Anticipating Surprise, which develops new forecasting capability for national security threats. Prior to that, he worked at the Office of Incisive Analysis, an analytics shop that works with data sets old and new.

Matheny has worked at Oxford University, the World Bank and the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a doctorate in applied economics. He also has co-founded two biotechnology firms, according to his IARPA biography.

“Jason brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position and I’m confident that he will continue to maintain the high bar for technical excellence and relevance to our intelligence community mission,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in an Aug. 3 statement.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Aug 03, 2015 at 10:53 AM0 comments

House of Representatives seeking new CIO

help wanted ad

The two-month search for a new CIO for the U.S. House of Representatives has flown mostly under the radar, but the post is still open -- and applications are being considered.

Former House CIO Nelson Moe left in May to become CIO for the state of Virginia, and Deputy CIO Catherine Szpindor has been serving as acting CIO since then. The House's Office of the Chief Administrative Officer has not actively advertised the vacancy, instead choosing to work with a private recruiting firm.  But if you’re interested in applying, more information is available here.

Posted by Jonathan Lutton on Jul 30, 2015 at 12:33 PM0 comments

HumanGeo acquired by Radiant Group

 Al Di Leonardo President and Chief Executive Officer (left) and  Abe Usher Chief Technology Officer (right) of HumanGeo.

HumanGeo was founded by Federal 100 award winners Al Di Leonardo (left) and Abe Usher.

The startup HumanGeo, launched in 2011 by Federal 100 award winners Al Di Leonardo and Abe Usher, has been acquired by the Radiant Group

HumanGeo focuses on developing big data analytics and visualizations to identify patterns in geospatial data, and has worked with clients ranging from the Department of Defense to the British government. The Radiant Group has advanced capabilities relating to network operations and cyber-defense, and “integrating some of our geospatial capabilities with the cyber-defense capabilities of the Radiant Group we think is going to be a really positive way we can help the government and commercial customers maintain their cybersecurity in the future,” Usher told FCW.

Usher was selected as a Federal 100 award winner in 2015 for putting together the Nerd Brigade—an agile consortium of software engineers organized similarly to military special operations concepts in that all the skills needed by the team are self-contained—in support of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)’s Analytical Modernization Program. 

Lt. Col. Al Di Leonardo won his Federal 100 Award in 2011 for developing the Skope Cell, a new approach to analyzing intelligence data at Special Operations Command. The Skope Cell grew to meet needs not traditionally filled by intelligence analysis techniques and has since exported its innovative collaboration and high-quality analytics to the entire intelligence community.

Di Leonardo and Usher said the future is bright for HumanGeo, predicting expansion in data analytics, cloud infrastructure and cloud migration strategies for federal agencies.

Posted by Eli Gorski on Jul 27, 2015 at 10:29 AM0 comments

Hruby to begin as Sandia director

Jill Hruby, director of Sandia National Laboratories (2015).

Jill Hruby will be the first woman to lead one of the Energy Department's nuclear security laboratories.

When Jill Hruby steps into her new leadership position at the nation's largest national research lab, Sandia National Laboratory, she will also make a bit of nuclear technology history.

Hruby was named the next president and director of Sandia on June 22, and is slated to take up her new role July 17, according to a statement from the facility.

As she begins her new job as the facility's 14th director, she will have the distinction of becoming the first woman to lead one of the nation's three national nuclear security laboratories -- Sandia, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. The labs operate under the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and are responsible for developing, engineering and testing non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons.

Sandia has principal sites in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., with operating revenue of about $2.6 billion, and more than 10,000 employees.

Hruby succeeds Paul Hommert, who is set to retire July 16 after serving as Sandia president and laboratories director since 2010.

In 2010, according to Sandia officials, Hruby came to the lab's New Mexico site after 27 years at its Livermore location to become vice president of the Energy, Nonproliferation, and High-Consequence Security Division, and leader of its International, Homeland and Nuclear Security Program Management Unit (PMU). The unit's mission encompasses nonproliferation and arms control; securing and safeguarding nuclear weapons and nuclear materials; protecting critical U.S. government assets and installations; ensuring the resilience of physical and cyber infrastructures; and reducing the risks of terrorist threats and catastrophic events.

As PMU vice president, Hruby oversaw more than 1,300 employees and contractors and managed work in such areas as global security, energy technologies, weapon and force protection, critical asset protection, the nuclear fuel cycle, geoscience and climate.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 14, 2015 at 9:06 AM1 comments

What Cobert brings to OPM

OMB DDM Beth Cobert, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Jan. 14, 2014

Beth Cobert is leaving her relatively sleepy perch as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget to take over the scandal-wracked Office of Personnel Management.

OMB has provided emergency leadership to embattled agencies before. Former OMB Controller Danny Werfel stepped in as acting commissioner of the IRS amid a scandal in 2013. And a few months after the botched launch of, OMB Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell was tapped to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cobert, in her tenure as DDM, has been leading the implementation of President Barack Obama's data-driven management initiative. She's also a leader on implementing the overall administration goal of "Smarter IT delivery," launched in the wake of the debacle. On the OMB org chart, she's charged with supervising the federal CIO operation, and her job ranges across federal activities like workforce development, employee performance, financial management, and updating and reforming the security clearance process.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest touted Cobert's qualifications for the OPM post. "Given the urgent challenges that they're facing right now, it's clear that a manager with a specialized set of skills and experiences is needed," Earnest said in a July 10 press briefing. "Those are, conveniently enough, the skills and experiences that Ms. Cobert brings to the job." He added, "but ultimately we'll need a permanent replacement. And that's something that we'll start working on today."

While Cobert is at OPM, Dave Mader, the current controller at OMB, will serve as acting deputy director of management.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:33 PM2 comments

Sweating the stolen data

The federal employee records stolen from the Office of Personnel Management were bad enough, but Standard Form 86 -- the 127-page questionnaire used for most security clearances -- gives hackers a jaw-dropping range of personal data. (OPM confirmed on July 9 that information from 19.7 million background checks was breached, impacting 21.5 million individuals.)

If you're one of the millions of feds who've completed an SF86, the information exposed includes:

Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic.  Click for larger image.

Source: Office of Personnel Management

Posted by FCW Staff on Jul 10, 2015 at 7:03 AM2 comments

ICE names new CIO

Michael C. Brown, former executive director of IT Services Office at US Department of Homeland Security.

Michael Brown will take over as CIO at Immigration and Customs Enforcement on July 26.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement went with a veteran executive inside the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the CIO to head up its IT operations.

According to an internal ICE memo issued July 6, Michael Brown, now an IT executive in DHS’s CIO office, will take over as ICE's new chief information officer on July 26.

Brown, an FCW Fed 100 winner in 2013, will replace Kevin Kern, who left the CIO slot about nine months ago. Before his stint at ICE, Kern had been a senior vice president and CIO at Unisys.

Since Kern's departure, ICE Deputy CIO Steve Smith served as acting CIO, while Jim Spratt had stepped in to serve as the acting deputy CIO during the period.

Brown has been executive director for the Information Technology Services Office (ITSO) within the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer since 2007. In that position, said the memo, he supervised the management of all DHS-wide infrastructure services and ensured that ITSO was aligned with DHS’s mission and strategic goals, as well as the agency's “One Network, One Infrastructure, One DHS” business objectives.

Brown had previously served as DHS’s deputy director for infrastructure operations and as director of systems operations, and as director of enterprise infrastructure at Customs and Border Protection, like ICE a DHS component agency.

In his work at DHS ITSO, Brown completed the migration of 16 data centers to two enterprise centers, which the department said would save $2.8 billion through 2030. He also transitioned more than 100,000 DHS employees to a private cloud email service, and launched a platform-as-a-service that supports Linux, open-source and Wintel environments.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 06, 2015 at 8:40 AM0 comments

Kathy Conrad to leave GSA

Kathy Conrad of GSA

Before joining GSA in 2011, Kathy Conrad worked in the private sector.

Multiple sources tell FCW that Kathy Conrad, the principal deputy associate administrator for the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology, will leave GSA in July.

An internal announcement for GSA staff went out today.

Conrad joined GSA in 2011 from the private sector, and has been a central figure in the administration's launch of 18F,, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program for cloud security. She is a three-time Federal 100 Award winner, and served as acting associate administrator for OCSIT and 18F for much of 2014. 

Conrad confirmed her departure to FCW, but did not specify an exact date or share details on her next steps beyond "take some time off."

Update:  In her email to GSA colleagues, Conrad said that her last day would be July 24. 

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 30, 2015 at 10:46 AM3 comments

PSC calls Saull

Bradley Saull, former senior staff for the House of Homeland Security Committee.

Hill staffer Bradley Saull is joining the Professional Services Council as a vice president. (Image: Bradley Saull / LinkedIn)

Bradley Saull, a senior staffer on the House Homeland Security Committee, is joining the Professional Services Council as vice president, handling issues facing civilian federal government agencies.

Saull joins the PSC on July 6.

On the Hill, Saull has served as management advisor on Department of Homeland Security issues for the Homeland Security Committee since 2013. He worked in the federal government from 2004 to 2007, at the Department of Justice and at DHS. He has also worked as a consultant at Deloitte.

In his newly created PSC post, Saull will serve as lead staffer for the Civilian Agencies Council, which focuses on issues facing DHS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies. The PSC is composed of a board of industry CEOS and other leaders from across the professional services and IT sectors.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 29, 2015 at 10:19 AM0 comments

Planning, procurement and purchasing the cloud: A primer

Shutterstock image.

When planning for the cloud, don’t forget procurement.

That was the message delivered by two experts with a shared and vested interest in successfully migrating federal agencies to cloud services, speaking on a panel at Amazon Web Services’ government symposium in Washington, D.C., on June 26.

"If procurement is left out, all the good intentions of cloud are reduced or eliminated," said David DeBrandt, business development capture manager for Amazon Web Services. “If you use traditional procurement frameworks, the benefits of cloud are taken away.”

Karen Petraska, service executive for data centers at NASA's Office of the CIO, said acquiring cloud services requires a different way of approaching procurement while still employing more traditional procurement techniques. NASA has been among the early movers toward cloud solutions.

NASA's Solutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement (SEWP) government wide procurement vehicle has been an instrumental part of her agency's cloud work, Petraska said. SEWP has issued statements of work that can give agencies varying levels of control over their services. NASA, for example, chose one with a high level of control over its data and high-level access. It also made sure it retained intellectual property rights to all of its data, she said.

That kind of detailed consideration is required when agencies craft requests for proposals for cloud services, according to both Petraska and DeBrandt.

That means including top managers from legal, budget, security and IT departments -- and not just acquisition personnel -- in initial procurement planning meetings, said DeBrandt.

Although cloud procurement is being learned by agencies like NASA, sometimes older procurement techniques can be tweaked to pitch in. Petraska said she uses "non-specific ordering" on procurement documents, which essentially creates a refillable "Starbucks Card" for NASA personnel who buy cloud services.

The technique, she said, has to be monitored to ensure regulatory compliance. AWS sends NASA a detailed bill on exactly what was used, which helps with federal audits, said Petraska said, who added that NASA is working with AWS to automate the process. 

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jun 26, 2015 at 11:01 AM0 comments

Lynn to replace Hawkins as DISA director

Alan Lynn

U.S. Army Major General Alan R. Lynn (above) is set to replace Lt Gen Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr. as director of DISA.

Army Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn will succeed Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins as head of the Defense Information Systems Agency sometime this summer, DISA officials said June 16.

Lynn is currently vice director of the Pentagon’s IT infrastructure agency. Hawkins announced in January that he would retire.

Lynn has been DISA’s vice director since September 2013, prior to which he was commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. He has also served as DISA’s chief of staff and as head of the Army Signal Center of Excellence.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:23 AM0 comments

Event touts D.C. women in tech

Shutterstock image (by Spectrum Studio): Washington, D.C. skyline.

(Image: Spectrum Studio / Shutterstock)

Anyone walking into Smith Public Trust in Washington, D.C., on the evening of June 10 noticed something immediately: Very, very few dudes.

More than 100 women techies attended "Celebrating DC Women in Technology" in Washington, D.C. tweeting with the hashtag #DCWIT2015. Among the attendees were the founder of a tech firm, members of Tech ladyMafia (a networking group for developers and digital strategists), and a woman switching careers and learning to code.

Instead of listening to panels and speeches, they had a chance to meet other women in the field, network and get recognition for the work they do.

The event stemmed from an article Meredith Fineman, CEO of Finepoint, wrote in May listing 14 outstanding-but-underrecognized D.C. women in tech. The piece was in response to Washingtonian Magazine's list of the 100 most powerful people in tech, which featured no women on the first page and only 27 total.

Fineman was "mystified" no one had spoken up about the disparity in the list, so she decided to make her own.

"There are so many amazing women I know in tech or technological positions that are friends and people I admire, work with, who I've hired, who have hired me, so I just made this list," she said.

The article went viral, and Fineman got hundreds of emails from women in tech wanting to share their stories. She put together the event quickly, finding a sponsor and a venue in just two weeks. The goal was to build a stronger platform for D.C. techies – government and private sector alike -- and to keep the conversation going.

"I had to be a PR person for a group of people that wasn't totally being spoken for, and I think it took someone slightly outside the industry," Fineman said "It was very clear within five seconds of my posting that piece, and within five seconds of my posting the event, that it was something people really wanted and needed."

DC has been ranked as the top city for women in tech, with 37 percent of tech jobs filled by women. Fineman said she hopes to have a similar event next year, but wants to keep it a celebration most of all. "It's such a mired topic. It's just very hard to be a woman in or around technology and sometimes you don't want to talk about how hard it is. … You just want to hang out and have fun."

Posted by Bianca Spinosa on Jun 11, 2015 at 12:51 PM0 comments

FDIC CIO on leave

vacant desk

Barry West, CIO at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is on leave of an unspecified nature and is stepping down as president of the board at the Association For Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM).

The circumstances surrounding West’s changing roles are unclear.

Early in the day on June 4, West’s name was removed from the FDIC website directory and replaced with Acting Chief Information Officer Martin Henning, though by the end of the day West’s name had been restored and Henning’s removed.

FDIC spokeswoman Barbara Hagenbaugh told FCW that West was on leave for “personal reasons” but could not say when the leave had started, when it might be over or whether it was paid. Hagenbaugh said the removal of West’s name from the FDIC website was an “error,” though she confirmed that Henning was handling West’s workload while West is out of the office.

AFFIRM board member Stacy Riggs told FCW that West had completed one year as president and had planned to serve a second, but recently decided to step down when his first term ends this month. She added that he was an “awesome president” and said she knew nothing of his leave at FDIC. A spokeswoman for Potomac Resources Management, which manages AFFIRM, confirmed that elections had been held for new board positions and a new president would be announced June 17.

West has extensive experience in and out of government, having served as CIO at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Commerce. He also served as president of the American Council for Technology & Industry Advisory Council from 2003 to 2007. He started at the FDIC in December.

West did not respond to multiple inquiries seeking comment.

Posted by Zach Noble on Jun 04, 2015 at 1:24 PM2 comments

GSA taps Starinsky for acquisition institute

Melissa Starinsky

Melissa Starinsky began her career as an acquisition intern in 1989 with the Navy Department.

The General Services Administration has named Melissa Starinsky director of the Federal Acquisition Institute, the agency’s training arm for the acquisition workforce.

Starinsky has more than 25 years of public and private-sector experience in acquisition, and was previously chancellor of the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy, where she oversaw five schools: Acquisition Internship, Program Management, Contracting Professional, Facilities Management, and Supply Chain Management.

"OFPP looks forward to working closely with Melissa and the talented FAI staff in continuing to strengthen the federal acquisition workforce," Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung said in a June 1 statement.

FAI works with organizations such as OFPP, the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, and the Interagency Acquisition Career Management Council on a variety of training and research efforts. FAI is located within GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy and receives policy direction from the OFPP.

According to GSA, Starinsky began her career as an acquisition intern in 1989 with the Navy Department and has held various acquisition and programmatic leadership positions with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs and in the private sector. While at HHS she served as deputy director of the Office of Acquisition and Grants Management for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jun 01, 2015 at 11:39 AM0 comments

HHS picks Fox for CTO

Susannah Fox of the HHS Idea Lab

Susannah Fox succeeds Bryan Sivak as chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Susannah Fox, who ran the health and technology surveys for the Pew Internet Project, and was most recently the entrepreneur-in-residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has been tapped to serve as CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services.

At Pew, Fox led efforts to understand how Americans use new technology to access health care and health information, as technology to monitor individual health was entering the everyday lives of health care consumers.

Fox wrote on an HHS blog post that she is looking forward to aiding administration efforts to open more health data, and to supporting the HHS Idea Lab, which gives government employees more freedom to experiment with new ideas and connects individual entrepreneurs with pressing health technology problems.

"Technology's true impact is only just now emerging in this area. The Internet gives us greater access to information, yes, but even more importantly, it gives us access to each other," Fox wrote.

Fox takes over for Bryan Sivak, who founded the Idea Lab. Sivak announced his departure in late March and stepped down at the end of April.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 29, 2015 at 12:12 PM0 comments

Roth tapped to head GSA

Denise Turner Roth.

Denise Turner Roth joined GSA as deputy administrator in 2014.

President Barack Obama intends to make Denise Turner Roth's job as acting head of the General Services Administration into a more permanent one.

The president said in a May 21 announcement that he will nominate GSA's acting administrator to fill the position full time.

“As acting administrator and deputy administrator, Denise led the General Services Administration to become more efficient, innovative and effective," said the president.

Roth stepped into the acting administrator position after Dan Tangherlini left the agency in February to become chief operating officer at the Washington-area real estate investment firm Artemis Real Estate Partners.

In assuming the acting administrator position, Roth told FCW that she sees her mission as perpetuating the successes her predecessor's strategies yielded.

Before she came to GSA in 2014 to be deputy administrator, she was city manager in Greensboro, N.C. Before that, she had worked on Capitol Hill and in local D.C. government.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on May 21, 2015 at 1:07 PM0 comments

(ISC)² honors information security leaders in government

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium -- more commonly know as (ISC)² -- honored a wide range of federal information security executives at the group's annual awards ceremony last week.

Among the winners of the U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards was the Marine Corps' Cyber Protection Team -- for its training and capacity-building efforts, which include the development of a cyber protection toolkit that has become the standard for all such toolkits at the Defense Department.

The other government awardees were:

  • The Department of Homeland Security's John Simms for speeding the deployment of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program to 21 agencies in a way that also reduced costs.
  • The Education Department's Benjamin Bergersen for making shared services the first agency-run software-as-a-service offering to receive Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program authorization.
  • The U.S. Army's Michael Redman for identifying a training gap among DOD cybersecurity professionals and crafting in-house courses that more than 300 of his colleagues have now used.
  • The State Department's Samuel Maroon for his volunteer efforts teaching and managing the Wounded Warrior Cyber Combat Academy -- a program administered by the Federal IT Security Institute that trains injured veterans for careers in cybersecurity.

In addition, U.S. Navy Reservist Wajahat Qureshi received the (ISC)² Foundation's USA Cyber Warrior Scholarship for 2015, the vulnerability research and coordination team at Carnegie Mellon University's CERT Division was honored as the most valuable industry partner, and former (ISC)² Executive Director W. Hord Tipton was chosen for the organization’s F. Lynn McNulty Tribute Award.

Posted by FCW Staff on May 18, 2015 at 8:46 AM0 comments

McClure elected to IAC leadership role

Dave McClure_Veris Group

Dave McClure

One of the traditions at ACT-IAC's annual Management of Change conference is the naming of new leadership for the industry side of the organization. At the evening proceedings on May 18, departing Executive Chair Dan Chenok announced the Dave McClure had been elected as Industry Advisory Council executive vice chair. 

IAC has a built-in succession plan, where an industry leader serves one term as vice-chair before ascending to the top job. Current Executive Vice Chair Ted Davies will take over for Chenok this summer, and McClure will be in line to succeed him in 2016.

Chenok said that McClure, with his deep experience in both industry and government, was a great pick to help lead the organization -- noting his previous service on the ACT-IAC Executive Advisory Board and recognition as the John J. Franke Award recipient in 2013. "He's a visionary," Chenok told FCW. "The organization will be in terrific hands."

McClure, who retired from the General Services Administration in 2014 and is now chief strategist for the Veris Group, said he was excited to return to a larger role in ACT-IAC -- particularly for a two-year stint that will span a transition in administrations. "It'll be a fun time, and exciting," he said. "It's my kind of environment."

IAC also announce the selection of four new executive committee members: Susan Becker of Unisys, Malcolm Harden of CGI Federal, Richard Spires of Resilient Network Systems and Paul Strasser of PPC.

McClure and Spires are both winners of FCW's Government Eagle Award, and both write occasional columns for FCW.

Posted by FCW Staff on May 18, 2015 at 5:47 AM0 comments

Nally to retire in July

Brigadier General Kevin J. Nally, Deputy Chief Information Officer (Marine Corps)

Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Nally has served more than three decades in the Marine Corps.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, the Marine Corps' CIO and director for C4, is retiring in July. 

Speaking at AFCEA Nova's May 14 Naval IT Day in Vienna, Va., Nally -- who has filled a variety of IT leadership roles for the Corps over the last 10 years -- told the audience that this would be his last time speaking at the annual event. "Unless," he quipped, "I become president of the United States -- in which case I'll be happy to come back and talk to you."

Nally won a Federal 100 Award in 2012 for his efforts to virtualize USMC networks and consolidate data centers. That work helped put the Marine Corps in a position to skip versions 1.0 and 1.5 of the Defense Department's Joint Regional Security Stacks initiative, because the Corps' existing cybersecurity stacks have more capacity and are significantly cheaper than JRSS 1.5. (Nally did say he expected the Corps to "be a big player in JRSS 2.0.")

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Nally said that after "34-plus years, it's time to transition." He demurred when asked if he knows what he'll do next, saying only, "I know what I don't want to do."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM0 comments

White House taps Princeton prof as deputy CTO

Edward William Felten.

Ed Felten is professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University and a former CTO at the FTC.

Ed Felten, a former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission and now a computer science and public affairs professor at Princeton University, will be the Office of Science and Technology Policy's Deputy CTO.

Felten’s background in government and academia breaks the recent mold of senior tech appointees with private-sector resumes. Former Google executive Megan Smith was named federal chief technology officer last fall. In February, the White House named former VMWare CIO Tony Scott as federal CIO. The same month DJ Patil, formerly vice president of product at RelateIQ, was named the first-ever U.S. chief data scientist.

"Ed joins a growing number of techies at the White House working to further President Obama’s vision to ensure policy decisions are informed by our best understanding of state-of-the-art technology and innovation, to quickly and efficiently deliver great services for the American people, and to broaden and deepen the American people’s engagement with their government," said a May 11 White House statement.

Felten has been a vocal critic of some federal electronic surveillance policies and recording industry copyright practices. In 2006, he recorded and posted a video alleging security gaps in Diebold voting machines.

Felten is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton, where he is also the founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy. In 2010, Felten took a one year leave of absence from the faculty to become the FTC's first chief technologist. He has also worked with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on May 12, 2015 at 8:31 AM0 comments

Rep. Connolly wants you to tell him a story

Gerry Connolly_2015 Eagle

Rep. Gerry Connolly wants people to email federal employee success stories to

Amid the failures and tales of a public dissatisfied with federal workers, success stories often go unnoticed. Rep. Gerry Connolly wants to hear those stories.

As Public Service Recognition Week wound down, the Virginia Democrat announced the creation of a dedicated email address -- -- for the people to submit stories of public servants who went above and beyond the call of duty.

"The inspiration for this project was hearing firsthand from constituents about stories of good governance that are compelling, yet lack the characteristics of scandal or conflict that so often make good headlines," Connolly said.

Connolly’s office, which will monitor the new account, said constituents have already sent in many stories that defy the “frequent stereotype of lazy and inept government bureaucrats.”

Will trolls use the account to lob spam or hate mail the government’s way?

“[T]o date, the positive has far outweighed a few negative submissions, and I am pleased that we have already received detailed responses from individuals that highlight and describe precisely the types of best practices that we are interested in learning more about," Connolly told FCW.

Connolly added that he hopes the lessons gleaned from the stories will lead not just to back-patting praise for certain public servants, but to the identification of new best practices to improve civil service.

Posted by Zach Noble on May 08, 2015 at 9:03 AM1 comments

White House digital strategist steps down

Nathaniel Lubin

Nate Lubin developed the "enhanced" State of the Union webcast.

Nate Lubin, head of the White House Office of Digital Strategy, stepped down May 1. Lubin led a transformation in the way the Obama administration taps social media to reach citizens, particularly young people.

Lubin developed the "enhanced" State of the Union webcast that paired live video of the speech with supplemental materials designed to give viewers a deeper dive into the president's policy proposals. The 2015 effort generated 1.2 million live stream views. Additionally, there were 400,000 views of the transcript of the speech as posted on the social site Medium.

Lubin was also behind the posting of the fiscal 2016 budget proposal data on GitHub, the open source code sharing service.

Lubin, 28, worked on email marketing for the 2008 Obama campaign while still a student at Harvard. In the 2012 campaign, he was director of digital marketing for Obama for America and was digital director for the 2013 inauguration.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 04, 2015 at 10:33 AM0 comments

Coast Guard No. 2 tapped to lead TSA

Wikimedia image: Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger.

Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, a 34-year Coast Guard veteran, has served as vice commandant since May 2014.

President Barack Obama announced that he intends to nominate Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger to be the next head of the Transportation Security Administration.

"He has been a recognized leader in the face of our nation’s important challenges, and I am grateful for his service," Obama said in a statement.

Neffenger has served as vice commandant of the Coast Guard since May 2014, the culmination of a Coast Guard career that began in 1981. Among the positions he has held are deputy commandant for operations and director of strategic management and doctrine. He was also deputy national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and served as security coordinator for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., from 2003 to 2006. 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson noted that Neffenger's confirmation would include him in a growing list of top managers coming into the department. DHS has had nagging problems with vacancies in some of its top management ranks over the past few years.

"With the recent confirmation of Russ Deyo to be our new undersecretary for management, there are now 12 new Senate-confirmed presidential appointments for the Department of Homeland Security since I took office, including me," Johnson said in an April 28 statement.

Neffenger would be 13 if he is confirmed by the Senate.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:43 AM0 comments

Casey Coleman moving to Unisys Federal Systems

Casey Coleman

Casey Coleman

Former General Services Administration CIO Casey Coleman is leaving AT&T Government Solutions to become Unisys Federal's civilian agency business leader. Her first day at Unisys will be April 22.

Washington Technology's Nick Wakeman interviewed Coleman on April 14 about the pending move. She said she had long been impressed by Unisys' "depth of capabilities and skills, whether it is the cloud, mobility, security or the core infrastructure."

Coleman joined AT&T in January 2014 after spending 11 in various IT leadership roles at GSA. Prior to GSA, she held positions at Lockheed Martin and Kana Software.

A three-time Federal 100 winner, Coleman told Washington Technology her time at GSA would serve her well at Unisys. "I have a lot of empathy for our government customers," she said. "You have to understand the pressures they are under."

For the full Washington Technology article, please click here.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 15, 2015 at 5:02 AM0 comments

Hashmi bids a fond farewell

GSA CIO Sonny Hashmi (Photo by Zaid Hamid)

Sonny Hashmi's last day at GSA was April 3.

On his last day as General Services Administration CIO, Sonny Hashmi told his colleagues in a final post on the GSA website that the agency has embraced cutting edge technologies during his four year tenure that substantially reduced costs.

"We modernized GSA's core systems and operations, reduced annual IT costs by 20 percent, embraced modern technology paradigms including cloud computing, mobility, big data and agile techniques, and helped define the future vision of information technology across the federal government," Hashmi wrote in a final April 3 post on GSA's "Around the Corner" CIO blog site.

In his blog post, Hashmi said he had worked to establish a foundation for the future at GSA, installed innovative IT operations and provided direction at the agency.

"We establish a policy outlining nine key principles guiding all IT efforts at GSA, including making a commitment to leverage open source technologies wherever possible, and to share any code that GSA owns so others may benefit from it," he said. "We also worked hard to bring together various teams from across GSA to streamline IT operations, reduce costs, and improve our products and services. These initiatives led to not only GSA IT reducing our annual budget by over $120 million, but allowed us to recruit some of the most talented and innovative individuals, as well as provided new opportunities to our workforce, who have helped revolutionize IT delivery within GSA and across the federal government."

Hashmi moved to the private sector at cloud service provider Box on April 6, leading the company's efforts in the federal government space.

David Shive is now GSA's acting CIO. Shive was director of the Office of Enterprise Infrastructure, responsible for the enterprise information technology infrastructure platforms and capability that support GSA's business enterprise. He was also the acting director of HR and FM Systems for the GSA CFO and CPO offices.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Apr 07, 2015 at 9:18 AM0 comments

How to spot a Rising Star

Rising Star Logo

Nominations for the 2015 Rising Star awards are now being accepted -- and we need your input to be sure we find the best possible candidates for our judges to consider.

The Rising Star awards spotlight women and men who -- even in the early stages of their federal IT careers -- are having an impact far above their pay grade, and who show clear signs of being leaders in the community in the years to come. Nominees can come from government, the private sector, academia or the non-profit world -- the only restrictions are that they be actively involved in the community, and in the first 10 years of their federal IT careers. So while many nominees are in their 20s and 30s, age is not the issue -- a 50-year-old veteran who's embarked on a second career is every bit as eligible.

So be thinking about the individuals you know who are both doing great things today and showing potential for tomorrow. Start identifying your supporting nominators, and gathering the information you'll need to show us these people are really Rising Stars.

The heart of each nomination comes down to these three questions:

  1. What does this person do? Describe the work for which he or she is being nominated.
  2. What impact did this work have? How did the nominee go above and beyond to make a difference?
  3. Is there any additional information the judges need to assess this individual's contributions to the community?

There are 1,200 characters allowed for each question, so choose your words wisely -- clarity and brevity count!

Each nomination also requires basic biographical details for the nominee (name, title, organization, years in the field, etc.), and contact information for you and any supporting nominators (each nominee can have up to five). The essay questions, however, are what make or break a nomination. Here's what to keep in mind as you answer them:

  • Focus on an individual’s accomplishments over the past year. This is an All-Star Team, not the Hall of Fame award, so don’t dwell on long and faithful service. Be specific about what the project encompassed and what the person did that was extraordinary.
  • It is the accomplishment and not the job title that counts, so describe the person’s contribution and show why the project is important to the community at large.
  • We know teams are important, but this is an individual award. Save your team nominations for the GCN Awards -- those nominations are also open!
  • This is not a popularity contest. Nominate people who have had a significant impact, even if they are not universally liked.
  • Supporting nominators matter -- a nomination with a single nominator can certainly produce a winner, but the judges pay attention to who is nominating and how they know the nominee/project.
  • That said, ask before you add someone’s name as a supporting nominator. Every year we have at least one judge who is stunned to find his or her name on a nomination he or she knew nothing about. It almost never has a positive effect on the discussion.
  • If you are nominating an industry person for work done at a government agency, it helps to have government corroboration. If ethical considerations make it difficult to enlist an agency employee as a supporting nominator, try to get third-party substantiation.
  • Finally, show the judges why this individual is an emerging leader to watch!

So gather all the necessary information, and begin nominating your favorite Rising Stars today.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 07, 2015 at 1:22 PM0 comments

Jones moves to DOT tech office

Shutterstock image: revolving door.

James Eric (Jimmy) Jones, chief program officer for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, will move over to the Department of Transportation to work for the chief technology officer.

In a note on his Facebook page, Jones said he is leaving the Recovery Board effective April 17 to begin working April 19 at the DOT, "supporting the Chief Technology Officer” on multiple IT projects. He did not specify a job title, and did not respond to requests for comment.

Maria Roat, former director of the General Services Administration's Federal Risk Management and Authorization Program (FedRAMP), became DOT CTO in August 2014.

The Recovery Board is an independent agency created under the economic stimulus act of 2009. As chief program officer, Jones has been responsible for daily operation of some of the board's major projects, including, and

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Apr 02, 2015 at 1:49 PM2 comments

Air Force shifts IT exec

Bill Marion.

Bill Marion, CTO at Air Force Space Command, was named CIO for the service's personnel directorate. (Image: Bill Marion / LinkedIn)

Bill Marion, a 2015 Fed 100 winner, is leaving his job as chief technology officer of the Air Force Space Command to become CIO and deputy director of plans and integration at the Air Force’s personnel directorate. The change will be effective April 9, an Air Force spokeswoman said.

As Air Force Space Command CTO, Marion helped deploy a mobility tool that allows users to encrypt and decrypt sensitive email messages and access 100,000 native applications. 

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 01, 2015 at 1:33 PM0 comments

HHS CTO steps down

Bryan Sivak

Bryan Sivak was formerly the chief innovation officer in Maryland under Gov. Martin O'Malley, a likely 2016 presidential contender.

Bryan Sivak, CTO at the Department of Health and Human Services and a 2015 Fed 100 honoree, is stepping down from his post at the end of April.

Sivak was a key player in two recent HHS innovations -- the development of a "Buyer's Club" to share institutional wisdom on procurement, and the ongoing administration of the Entrepreneurs in Residence program, which taps private sector developers to work inside HHS for a year on high-profile technology goals. Sivak also was a leader in the HHS IDEA Lab, which has empowered tech employees at the department to experiment with new ideas and collaborate with the private sector on data applications.

"Since joining us in 2012, Bryan has been a force for promoting innovation across the department, designing and deploying initiatives that improve the performance of the department for those we serve, and for our employees," HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell wrote in a March 27 email to staff. "Bryan has championed some of the department’s most innovative projects."

Sivak came to the federal government after serving as chief innovation officer in Maryland under Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid. Sivak also worked as CTO for the District of Columbia under Mayor Adrian Fenty. Before going into government, Sivak co-founded the software firm InQuira.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Mar 30, 2015 at 11:24 AM0 comments

Olga Grkavac wins 2015 President's Award

At FCW's 26th annual Federal 100 awards gala on March 26, Olga Grkavac was honored with the 2015 President's Award.

Grkavac, who retired in 2012, was a senior executive for TechAmerica and its predecessor organizations for 31 years, and before that was a key aide on Capitol Hill. Though now splitting her time between Virginia and the Eastern Shore, she remains a frequent counsel to a wide range of senior officials in both government and industry.

Trey Hodgkins, who succeeded Grkavac at TechAmerica and now leads the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector, explained her influence in the federal IT community this way: "All the groundwork and foundation work for almost every issue, almost every policy, almost every technology the government is adopting today, Olga has a major role it."

The President's Award is intended to recognize individuals whose quiet leadership and long-term contributions might otherwise slip under the radar. The video below explains in greater detail why Grkavac's influence and legacy certainly warrant the honor.

Posted on Mar 27, 2015 at 4:46 AM1 comments

The Fed 100: Believe it or not!

By John Klossner for FCW
Want to find out for yourself? Join us at this year's Federal 100 gala.

Posted by John Klossner on Mar 24, 2015 at 7:06 AM0 comments

VanRoekel steps down at USAID

Steve VanRoekel 102012

Steve VanRoekel resigned as U.S. CIO in September 2014 to help USAID address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Steven VanRoekel, the chief innovation officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development, has left his role with the agency, a USAID spokesperson told FCW on March 19.

The agency declined to provide further details concerning his departure or a possible replacement. VanRoekel told FedScoop, which first reported his resignation, that he was leaving the position to spend more time with his family.

VanRoekel stepped down as U.S. CIO in September 2014 to help USAID address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. As chief innovation officer at USAID, VanRoekel said he hoped to use his experience with IT and technology against the contagion.

VanRoekel worked with government agencies in Africa, via the White House's "Fighting Ebola Challenge" to decide how to bring in promising diagnostic technology, as well as get more cell network coverage in the affected countries.

VanRoekel's first post at USAID was in 2011 when he helped coordinate the agency’s digital communications efforts in response to the drought in the Horn of Africa. A former Microsoft executive, he joined the Obama administration in 2009 at the Federal Communications Commission as managing director, and moved to OMB in August 2011. 

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 19, 2015 at 7:59 AM0 comments

PNNL gets new director

Dr. Steven Ashby

Dr. Steven Ashby

Steven Ashby will take over as director of the Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory beginning April 1.

Ashby has been the lab's deputy director for science and technology since 2008. He will replace Mike Kluse, who is retiring after eight years as director, according to a March 11 statement from Battelle, which operates the lab for DOE's Office of Science.

Before joining PNNL, Ashby had been deputy principal associate director for science and technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and held several leadership roles at that lab's Computation directorate.

"Dr. Ashby's experience at the national laboratories will help drive innovation," said Undersecretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr in a statement. He added that Ashby's familiarity with the breadth of PNNL's research programs and his experience with computational sciences and advanced computing made him well suited to his new role.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 16, 2015 at 9:58 AM0 comments

OFPP launches podcast series to talk TechFAR, playbook

Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

OFPP Administrator Anne Rung

Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, has made good on her promise to host a series of podcasts highlighting successes with some of the agency's prominent procurement tools.

Rung announced on March 3 that she would use the series to show how federal agencies are successfully taking advantage of the Digital Services Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook. The announcement was among a number of tweaks to an OMB memo released in January that expanded category management practices and digital acquisition strategies, and championed more effective vendor engagement on large-scale IT projects.

"The workforce wanted an interactive way to send and receive solutions that enhance the value of IT procurements for customers and taxpayers," Rung wrote in a March 11 blog post. "Those suggestions led to the creation of the Behind the Buy audio series, or podcast, a human-centered design approach that allows procurement and program offices to listen and learn about innovative IT contracting strategies while carrying on their daily work responsibilities."

The inaugural podcast features Mark Naggar, project manager of the Department of Health and Human Services' Buyers Club. He details his use of the TechFAR Handbook and the Digital Services Playbook, noting that he tapped play No. 4, "build the service using agile and iterative practices," to help his team quickly contract with multiple vendors for development of IT system prototypes.

He said the approach helped increase customer satisfaction and vendor engagement and ultimately reduced delivery time from six months to two months.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 13, 2015 at 1:42 PM1 comments

More personnel changes at GSA

18F's Greg Godbout

Executive Director Greg Godbout is leaving GSA's 18F.

In an agency-wide message on March 11, General Services Administration Acting Administrator Denise Turner Roth announced two key changes in GSA's IT leadership.

Greg Godbout, the former presidential innovation fellow who serves as executive director of 18F, will be leaving GSA for another federal agency. As is often the case with startup tech ventures, Roth said, "there comes a time when the leadership who played key roles in the beginning will leave to create new ventures."

Aaron Snow, the group's principal deputy executive director and one of the first 18F team members, will take over as acting executive director, Roth said.

And in the office of the CIO, Roth announced, David Shive will become acting CIO when Sonny Hashmi departs for the private sector. "David has been a leading figure in almost every key GSA IT initiative and transformation for more than two years," Roth said, "and I look forward to working with him to continue to build on our legacy of IT excellence."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Mar 11, 2015 at 1:58 PM0 comments

Cook out as USDA CIO

Cheryl L. Cook

Cheryl L. Cook (above) has left her position as CIO of the USDA, leaving Joyce Hunter as acting CIO.

Agriculture Department CIO Cheryl Cook stepped down on March 6. Joyce Hunter, USDA's deputy CIO for policy and planning, has been named acting CIO.

USDA officials confirmed the departure, but offered no reason for it. Cook could not be reached for comment, and her email autoreply states simply that "I no longer work at USDA." The message refers senders to Hunter, Deputy CIO for Enterprise Management Sue Bussells and Acting Deputy CIO for Operations Nancy Reeves-Flores.

Cook, who won a 2015 Federal 100 award for her leadership on USDA's mobility management efforts, has served in a variety of roles at USDA, in Pennsylvania state government and in the non-profit sector. She had continued to reside in Pennsylvania, commuting to D.C. for her CIO duties.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Mar 10, 2015 at 7:45 AM0 comments

GSA's Roth not looking to rock the boat

Acting GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth said the innovations begun by Dan Tangherlini have been woven into the agency's mission.

When Dan Tangherlini departed from the General Services Administration last month, he left Deputy Administrator Denise Turner Roth in charge of what they both consider to be a well-oiled machine. "We have very strong fundamental efforts in place that we need to continue to run on," Roth said. "I don't see doing any of those differently. We need to keep running in the direction we've been running."

Although her predecessor's tenure was marked by efforts to transform GSA into something resembling a modern technology-centric business, Roth sees her mission as perpetuating the successes that strategy yielded.

But that doesn't mean nothing will change.

She said GSA has opportunities to capitalize on the work that has been done on projects such as the Common Acquisition Platform, Total Workplace and 18F and apply it to the partner agencies GSA supports.

"We do need to make sure that any of the changes to policy or processes or programs that we've brought online are a continuous and sustainable factor of GSA in our fabric," Roth said.

Before she came to GSA a year ago to be deputy administrator, she was city manager in Greensboro, N.C. Before that, she had worked on Capitol Hill and in local D.C. government.

She said her experience at various levels of government has prepared her to handle the challenges faced by GSA. In the past year, her focus has been on the organizational changes that have occurred, including staff realignment and managing administrative costs.

"I have a very core and fundamental perspective of how GSA operates and manages," Roth said. "I've been able to work closely with the leadership here at GSA and understanding what their long-term goals are, [what their] visions are and how we can support those efforts."

As for the innovations of the Tangherlini era, Roth said they are now woven into GSA's mission.

"We need to make sure that's an integral part of how we do business," she said.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Mar 06, 2015 at 10:43 AM1 comments

DOE to get new CIO

revolving door

The Department of Energy will replace interim CIO Don Adcock with Michael Johnson, assistant director for intelligence programs at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.

Adcock took over the acting CIO position last September after Bob Brese left government for the private sector. When Adcock stepped in on an interim basis, he retained his position as deputy CIO. He will reportedly move back into the deputy position when Johnson begins his new job on March 9.

Johnson's appointment was first reported by Nextgov.

Johnson will step into a position that oversees policy and oversight of DOE's $2 billion IT budget spread across more than 25 national laboratories and facilities that enable federal missions from advanced research to nuclear security. As interim CIO, Adcock led initiatives in open data, cloud computing and energy-efficient IT strategies.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 05, 2015 at 7:47 AM0 comments

Kinder, gentler... sort of

John Klossner for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Mar 04, 2015 at 7:18 AM0 comments

Levine tapped for DCMO

Image of the Pentagon

President Barack Obama on March 3 nominated former Senate Armed Services Committee staff director Peter Levine to be the Defense Department's next deputy chief management officer.

Levine worked on the Armed Services Committee from 1996 until January 2015, according to a White House-provided biography. Prior to that, he was general counsel to former Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and counsel to the Senate Committee on Government Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.

Congress created the position of DCMO in 2007 to better coordinate business practices across the vast Pentagon bureaucracy. Elizabeth McGrath served as the first DCMO from July 2010 to November 2013. Since May 2014, David Tillotson has filled the role on an acting basis.

Tillotson has emerged as the right-hand man for acting DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen's efforts to better leverage IT for cost savings. For DOD business operations, IT is "normally an embedded part of the problem, the solution or both," Tillotson told FCW in a recent interview. He added that getting DOD to an "auditable financial position" will require grappling with a "multiplicity of IT systems."

A spokesperson said Tillotson, who was originally tapped as assistant DCMO, could conceivably stay on in the office once Levine is confirmed.

Levine's nomination had been expected in the DOD community since at least early February, when William Greenwalt returned to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Multiple sources told FCW that the administration wanted to get Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed and on the job before turning to the DCMO nomination.

Paul Brubaker, who served as DOD's director of planning and performance management from January 2013 to May 2014, welcomed Levine's appointment. Levine will "bring a well-informed and needed perspective to the DCMO office," Brubaker told FCW. "I don't know why it took so long to fill that position except to say that the White House was probably looking for a candidate with a unique background, like Peter's, and candidates like him aren't that common."

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Mar 03, 2015 at 5:35 AM3 comments

Tangherlini lands in real estate investment

Dan Tangherlini

Dan Tangherlini will be staying in the D.C. area as he enters the private sector.

Former GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini has moved on to the private sector, settling at a Washington-area real estate investment firm, while his former employer has appointed staff to new leadership positions in his wake.

Chevy Chase, Md.-based Artemis Real Estate Partners said in a Feb. 25 statement it had appointed Tangherlini as its chief operating officer in charge of running corporate strategy and overseeing operations.

Tangherlini told his staff in a January internal email that he planned to leave the agency on Feb.  13, but didn't disclose where he would be going.

In that internal communication, Tangherlini said GSA Deputy Administrator Denise Turner Roth would serve as acting administrator.

Turner Roth started in that position on Feb. 23. In an introductory video blog posted on GSA's web site, she also announced two other management moves.

GSA Chief of Staff Adam Neufeld was named acting deputy administrator. Neufeld started at GSA in May of 2013 and has been a central figure in transforming the agency's office space, as well as a leader in championing innovative development initiatives, such as the Presidential Innovation Fellows and 18F.

Current Associate Administrator of the Office of Government-wide Policy, Christine Haradawas named acting chief of staff.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Feb 27, 2015 at 8:05 AM0 comments

Hettinger hangs out a shingle

Michael Hettinger

Hill veteran Mike Hettinger previously worked for TechAmerica and the Software and Information Industry Association.

Mike Hettinger, a technology policy expert who held senior positions with TechAmerica and the Software and Information Industry Association, has launched his own consultancy focused on legislative and regulatory strategy for the government market.

Hettinger Strategy Group offers clients lobbying and advisory services. The new firm has also partnered with Rich Beutel's Cyrrus Analytics on single-client engagement, and the two boutique firms may team up on other efforts in the future.

"Starting my own firm is something I have always wanted to do, and now seems like the perfect time. The technology marketplace is changing and new policies from Congress and the executive branch are altering the way government buys and uses technology, creating compliance issues for businesses. The demand for my expertise – the ability to influence policy and regulation to create business opportunities – is extremely high and I am excited to continue to work in this arena," Hettinger said in a news release announcing the business.

Hettinger has deep roots in the policy world. In addition to his work for technology trade associations, Hettinger served as chief of staff to former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and as staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Davis led.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:30 PM0 comments

More business, less policy

LinkedIn profile image: Richard Young, CIO for USDA's Foreign Agricultural Services.

In the few weeks Richard Young has been CIO of the Foreign Agricultural Service, he said he's become more focused on the business impact of IT and less on IT policy debates, or deploying the latest cutting edge technology, major preoccupations in his former post as director of IT policy and compliance at the Department of Homeland Security.

In remarks at a Feb. 19 Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) panel on "New Voices in Federal IT," Young said at FAS "it's all about sharing resources." Providing IT services to FAS, which operates 94 offices in 73 countries around the world, is more like providing IT to a small business than a giant corporation, said Young. FAS has about 15,000 employees; DHS has about 240,000.

"You have to understand the business side of IT. You have to talk in business terms, not in IT terms," he said. While the same may be true at DHS, Young said the day-to-day impact of IT on a smaller agency can be more immediate.

Shared services is a prime example of how smaller agency IT shops can focus on the task at hand. "Who needs another travel system?" he asked.

Young said that since moving from DHS into his CIO role at FAS, he has made a point to meet personally with FAS IT staff and get to know their issues, and vice versa. That kind of personal interaction wasn't possible at the relatively vast DHS IT operations. He said in the first few days of working at FAS, he shook hands with most of FAS IT employees. "At DHS, you didn't shake hands with the CIO at the door."

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Feb 20, 2015 at 8:09 AM0 comments

Rich Beutel helps CSPs navigate government regs

Shutterstock image: executive handshake.

Acquisitions expert Rich Beutel, who helped write and managed passage of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) while serving as a senior staffer on the House Government Oversight and Reform committee, has turned his attention to industry.

Rich Beutel

Richard (Rich) Beutel

His new consultancy, Cyrrus Analytics, is aimed at providing medium-sized cloud service providers a path through the maze of compliance directives required to do business with the federal government.

Beutel launched Cyrrus in the last week of January, and so far he's landed Adobe and MeriTalk as clients.

"I would be problem-solving issues that are hindering clients’ ability to do business with the federal government," Beutel told FCW in an email.

Some areas of practice include FedRAMP certification, changing National Institute for Standards and Technology security guidance, navigating agency procurement models, and general government contracting issues, he said.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:15 AM0 comments

Secret Service needs a CIO

help wanted ad

A high-profile government agency responsible for the lives of some of the most important people on the planet, working in one of the most volatile, pressure-filled environments on earth needs a new CIO. It's not a job for the faint-of-heart, as failure could mean monumental problems for everyone.

The Secret Service is looking to pay $121,956 to $183,300 to a candidate who can "transform" the way the agency uses technology to achieve its mission of protecting the president of the United States, his family, the vice president and his family, visiting foreign leaders, and U.S. currency from counterfeiters.

The ideal job applicant, said the Secret Service job notice, will be able to use technology to support those missions in ways that can spur strategic change, from the modernization of mobile phones into communication and planning devices to working with partners on advanced surveillance and threat mitigation.

You’ll also need top secret/sensitive compartmented information clearances to qualify for the Senior Executive Service-level post.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Feb 04, 2015 at 7:49 AM1 comments

SASC gets an old acquisition hand

LinkedIn profile image: Bill Greenwalt

William Greenwalt is rejoining the Senate Armed Services Committee after 18 months at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. (Image: LinkedIn)

William Greenwalt, a former deputy undersecretary of Defense, has returned to his previous position as a staff member focusing on acquisition at the Senate Armed Services Committee. His move comes after an 18-month stint as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute focusing on a range of defense issues.

Greenwalt brings deep federal acquisition policy experience to the committee at a time when Congress is considering ways of simplifying a defense acquisition system that both practitioners and observers say is overly complex.

From 2006 to 2009, Greenwalt was deputy undersecretary of Defense for industrial policy, serving as the top adviser to successive undersecretaries for acquisition, technology and logistics Kenneth Krieg and John J. Young Jr.

Greenwalt’s 20-year career influencing defense policy has included top acquisition posts at Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Aerospace Industries Association. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Greenwalt spent more than a decade on Capitol Hill as an adviser to the Senate Governmental Affairs and Armed Services committees. During this time he helped write the Clinger-Cohen Act, an influential IT procurement law.

In an email to colleagues in the federal IT and acquisition communities, Greenwalt noted some of his side projects while at AEI included a review of NASA's security with the National Academy of Public Administration, work on drone development, and a study of "non-traditional contractors" with the University of Maryland.

From his post at AEI, Greenwalt has compared the defense acquisition to "an 18th century wooden warship that has been out to sea for too long," and called for a multiyear effort to overhaul it.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Feb 03, 2015 at 9:10 AM0 comments

Stempfley leaving DHS

Exit Sign

One of the Department of Homeland Security's top cyber defenders, Roberta "Bobbie" Stempfley, is set to leave for the private sector, an agency spokesman confirmed to FCW.

Stempfley is deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate. She has been with the department for five years, beginning in 2010 as director of the National Cyber Security Division, and served in multiple capacities, including acting assistant secretary of CS&C from January 2013 to April 2014.  Stempfley won a 2013 Federal 100 award for her work on cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. 

Stempfley was also previously CIO for the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Federal News Radio first reported Stempfley's departure for Mitre Corp. Mitre officials confirmed to FCW that Stempfley is coming aboad in February as as director of cyber strategy implementation.

Most recently at DHS, Stempfley has been helping to lead efforts to stem the massive Heartbleed flaw and other potentially serious malware that could spread within federal agencies. In October, DHS announced a newly enhanced authority to scan agency networks for serious computer viruses, a change that could significantly reduce the time it takes the government to nip the next Heartbleed in the bud.

Stempfley said the new authority looked to more widely scan federal agency vulnerabilities so potential flaws could be fixed more quickly. Before the OMB guidance, DHS needed permission from a federal agency before it could scan that agency's networks.

A DHS spokesman told FCW in an email that Rick Harris will serve as acting deputy director of the CS&C's Stakeholder Engagement and Cyber Infrastructure Resilience Division, stepping in to take on Stempfley's duties.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 30, 2015 at 8:00 AM0 comments

FTC's chief privacy officer heads for the private sector

LinkedIn profile image: Peter Miller, FTC's Chief Privacy Officer.

Peter Miller has been the Federal Trade Commission's chief privacy officer since November 2012.

Peter Miller has resigned his post as the Federal Trade Commission’s chief privacy officer and joined Crowell & Moring as a senior counsel for the law firm's advertising and product risk management and privacy and cybersecurity groups.

Miller spent a decade with the FTC, including stints as an attorney within the Division of Advertising Practices and assistant director for regional operations for the Bureau of Consumer Protection. He had been  CPO since 2012, and publicly urged other federal agencies to be more proactive about building privacy protection into IT systems from the beginning.

Posted by Jonathan Lutton on Jan 28, 2015 at 7:58 AM0 comments

DHS IT compliance head moves to USDA

LinkedIn profile image: Richard Young, CIO for USDA's Foreign Agricultural Services.

Richard Young, CIO for USDA's Foreign Agricultural Services. (LinkedIn)

The now-former director of IT policy and compliance at the Department of Homeland Security, Richard Young, has begun a new job as CIO of an international program agency within the Department of Agriculture.

An Agriculture Department spokesperson said Young is now CIO of the department's Foreign Agricultural Service. The FAS manages USDA's overseas programs, such as market development, international trade agreements and negotiations, and the collection of statistics and market information. It also administers USDA's export credit guarantee and food aid programs.

Young reports to FAS Associate Administrator and Chief Operating Officer Bryce Quick. The FAS CIO slot was a vacant position before Young started, the USDA spokesperson said.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 26, 2015 at 11:42 AM0 comments

Lab's data center efforts lauded

Lawrence Livermore National Laborator. (Image courtesy of

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory got a pat on the back for from its parent agency for its energy-saving data center consolidation efforts, earning an Energy Department Sustainability Award for closing more than two centers on its Livermore, Calif., campus.

The lab said its consolidation program, begun in 2011, has shuttered 26 data centers, representing 26,000 square feet of space, resulting in annual savings of $305,000 in energy bills and $43,000 in maintenance costs. LLNL defines a “data center” as a space with at least 500 square feet that contains one or more servers. When the consolidation effort began three years ago, the lab said it had more than 60 data centers scattered around the main LLNL site.

The lab's operational and business services managers in charge of the consolidation said shutting down the centers has other cost benefits, including eliminating the need to install and maintain electrical meters required by DOE’s sustainability program to monitor power usage across the institution. That alone, they said, resulted in savings of $348,000 and avoided more than $10 million in expenditures to support the centers. DOE requires that all LLNL data centers be metered by the end of this fiscal year.

LLNL said in a Jan. 20 statement that the collective space at the lab dedicated to data centers is called the Enterprise Data Center, or EDC, which consists of 15,620 square feet housing 2,500 mission critical science, engineering, computational research and business computing systems.

In addition to consolidating some 126 physical servers into the EDC, the lab said its operations team created 140 “virtual” servers that act as a kind of private cloud, in which virtual servers put unused CPU space on physical servers to work for multiple clients, reducing the number of physical servers needed in the EDC. One physical platform can be subdivided to create as many as 50 virtual servers.

The most recent data center effort, said the lab, represents the "low hanging fruit." Going forward, LLNL said it will embark on a broader institutional phase under DOE’s Better Building Challenge program to be led by Doug East, the lab's chief information officer. The Better Building Challenge is an LLNL partnership with DOE in which the lab commits to reducing the energy intensity of data centers by at least 20 percent within 10 years. DOE, it said, provides technical expertise, training, workshops and a repository of "best practices."

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 23, 2015 at 11:02 AM0 comments

Chrousos adds new role at GSA

LinkedIn profile image for Phaedra Chrousos.

GSA Chief Customer Officer Phaedra Chrousos is taking on the additional role of associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

The General Services Administration has a new associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. GSA Chief Customer Officer Phaedra Chrousos will be stepping into the role while continuing in her current position.

Chrousos came to GSA in June 2014 to serve as the agency's first chief customer officer. Prior to joining GSA she co-founded and served as chief operating officer for Daily Secret -- a digital media company that focuses on city-specific email newsletters -- and oversaw the launch of 37 editions in 21 countries, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also co-founded HealthLeap, an online service to help physicians with appointment-booking, and previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group.

"Phaedra is ideally suited for this role, given her experience founding and managing two successful companies in the digital media and health care industries, respectively," Tangherlini said in a Jan. 13 blog post on the GSA website. "I am confident that she will do an outstanding job in this new position."

Kathy Conrad, deputy associate administrator at OCSIT, has been serving as acting administrator since David McClure retired from the job in April 2014.

In a November blog post, Chrousos talked about creating a more coordinated customer service experience at GSA and the need for more data-driven decisions.

"These initial realizations meant that my role as CCO was much less about beating the drum for customer experience and much more about harnessing the enthusiasm at GSA and expanding on, scaling, and coordinating isolated efforts," Chrousos wrote.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:42 AM0 comments

Ready... get set...

John Klossner for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Dec 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM0 comments

No more bids by telegram

Telegram from Harpo Marx to JFK (Image from the National Archives)

Telegrams were once used for everything from messages to the president (in this case from Harpo Marx) to, apparently, bids for government contracts. (Image: National Archives)

So much for those singing bid proposals.

New rules prohibiting bid submissions via telegram and fax are part of a Dec. 4 memo from Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung on procurement simplification.

Rung's memo is primarily aimed at spreading the use of data-driven procurement practices, particularly category management, to cover the entire federal government, as well as developing talent management within agencies and building better vendor relationships. However, one clause in the lengthy document states, "the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) shall take steps to identify and remove or revise any outdated regulations, as was recently done for rules related to Y2K compliance, and will be done for submission of bids via telegram or fax..."

All government rules need periodic reviews and updates, of course, but OMB did not respond to an inquiry about why now was deemed the time to take aim at procurement by Western Union. After a chuckle, a GSA spokesperson told FCW the agency couldn't remember the last time a bid was last submitted via telegram, or even by fax.

Western Union, incidentally, delivered its last telegram in 2006.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 09, 2014 at 12:14 PM0 comments

DOD announces 2014 CIO award winners

Image of the Pentagon

The Department of Defense announced the winners of its 2014 CIO awards on Dec. 4, celebrating the honor’s 14th anniversary in a ceremony at the Pentagon. Four teams and four individuals were honored for achievements in information resource management, IT and cybersecurity over the past year.

The NSA’s Heartbleed Team received the top group honor for preventing the exploitation of that widespread security vulnerability in the department’s “global network of more than eight million computing devices.”

Martin P. Doebel -- Strategic System Technical Manager/Chief National and Nuclear C4 Division, United States Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska -- won first place for individuals based on his work to address gaps in National and Nuclear Command, Control, Communications and Computer systems. 

Terry Halvorsen, DOD's acting CIO, spoke briefly at the event, saying that the relationship of acquisition, technology and logistics in government “is vital to driving innovation across the department, as exemplified by the achievements recognized here today.” The eight award winners were selected from more than 100 nominations spanning both civilian and military employees.

The complete list of teams and individuals honored at the event can be found in the DOD’s official release.

Posted by Jonathan Lutton on Dec 05, 2014 at 8:30 AM0 comments

How would you like to run the Navy's IT?

help wanted ad

Are you a great leader who understands enterprise IT systems, identity and records management, cybersecurity, privacy, capital planning and more? Does having a hand in world's largest computer network outside the public Internet sound appealing? And oh, do you happen to have a Top Secret/SCI security clearance?

If so, the Department of the Navy might like to talk to you about being its next CIO.

A listing, posted Dec. 2, outlines the core requirements for the job. Pay could range as high as $181,500.

The Navy, of course, already has a CIO -- but Terry Halvorsen has been plenty busy since May as the acting CIO for the Defense Department as a whole. And Halvorsen has not been acting much like an "acting" at DOD -- the 2010 Federal 100 winner has changed procurement policy to accelerate cloud adoption, pushed to get Joint Information Environment pilot projects out the door, and otherwise eschewed the idea of simply serving as a temporary caretaker.

The Navy listing reinforces the sense that Halvorsen is not returning to his old job anytime soon. Interested applicants have until Dec. 16 to apply.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Dec 04, 2014 at 7:42 AM1 comments

10 IT skills that matter in 2015

Shutterstock image.

Curious to know which IT skills private-sector executives see as critical? Wondering what the need is out there for your abilities? 

According to ComputerWorld's 2015 Forecast survey, the demand for big data expertise trails its buzzword status, while project management and core coding/developer skills will be the most-sought as companies hire in the coming year.

The 10 "hottest IT skills," according to the survey, are:

1. Programming/application development

2. Project management

3. Help desk/technical support

4. Security/compliance governance

5. Web development

6. Database administration

7. Business intelligence/analytics

8. Mobile applications and device management

9. Networking

10. Big data

For more on the list and the survey behind it, see ComputerWorld's coverage.

Posted by FCW Staff on Nov 21, 2014 at 9:56 AM0 comments

DIA's innovation lead not stepping down

Dan Doney

CORRECTION: DIA Chief Innovation Officer Dan Doney told FCW on Nov. 24 that he was not resigning, and plans to stay through the end of his contract. A full correction is available here.

Dan Doney is stepping down as chief innovation officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency, FCW has learned -- the latest in a series of high-level departures from the Pentagon’s spy agency in recent months.

Doney's last day at the agency will be Nov. 21, according to a former senior intelligence official.

A DIA spokesman, when contacted Nov. 20 by FCW, said he was unaware of Doney's plan to resign.

Doney has been DIA’s chief innovation officer since February 2013. His contract for the job was set to expire in February, but Doney has opted to step down now, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified.

DIA, which is responsible for feeding intelligence to deployed soldiers and assessing foreign militaries' capabilities, has been overshadowed by the bigger and better-funded Central Intelligence Agency. The agency created the position of chief innovation officer to help foster greater collaboration with private industry on intelligence issues.

And four months after taking the job, Doney said publicly he wanted DIA to get more innovative and less beholden to rigid planning. “When it comes to innovation, we haven't had a great reputation," he said at a DIA-hosted industry day in June 2013. "Put that in the past.”

The Pentagon had planned to ramp up DIA’s overseas presence by sending as many as 1,000 undercover officers abroad to work with the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command. But Defense officials recently decided to cut in half the number of DIA agents posted abroad, in the face of congressional opposition, according to a Washington Post report.

Doney’s imminent departure means that four senior DIA officials in recent months have either left the agency or announced plans to do so. In August, David Shedd replaced Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as DIA director on an interim basis. Two weeks later, then-CTO Gus Taveras resigned. The agency is also in search of a CIO to succeed Grant Schneider, a career employee who has held the job since 2007 and is on the way out the door.

The DIA spokesman, however, told FCW that should Doney indeed resign, the innovation office he oversees would remain otherwise intact.

Doney, who has a master’s in nuclear engineering from MIT, served as technical director of Strategic Enterprise Solutions, a Reston, Va.-based IT services contractor, prior to joining DIA last year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:46 AM2 comments

Altman, Murphy, Sanghani recognized by contractor community

Anne Altman

IBM's Anne Altman was named Executive of the Year.

The Professional Services Council and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 13 announced the winners of their 2014 Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards.

Anne Altman, IBM's general manager for federal government and industries, was named Executive of the Year in the large-firm category. Millennium Engineering and Integration Co. President and CEO Patrick Murphy won in the $75 to $300 million category, and Octo Consulting Group President Mehul Sanghani won for executives at sub-$75 million firms.

While the awards recognize individual achievements, Altman and other winners stressed the community component of their success. Washington Technology Editor Nick Wakeman, who attended the event, quoted Altman as saying it is "through our work together as a community [that] we deliver value to value to our country and the world." Sanghani, Washington Technology reported, stressed the other industry leaders that he "idolized" -- and hopes to one day consider rivals.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Wendy Masiello, who runs the Defense Contract Management Agency, was recognized as the 2014 Public Sector Partner of the Year. And contractors Agilex, American Systems, Arc Aspicio, Eagle Ray and IndraSoft all received recognition for company-wide performance.

Washington Technology has more on the GovCon awards, including the other finalists in each category.

Posted by FCW Staff on Nov 14, 2014 at 10:58 AM0 comments

Cybersecurity specialist wins House seat

Will Hurd

Will Hurd, a former CIA covert agent and a senior advisory for cybersecurity vendor FusionX, won a narrow, upset victory in the race to represent the sprawling 23rd district of Texas. He defeated one-term Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego, and will represent a district that borders Mexico and includes parts of San Antonio and El Paso.

Hurd becomes the first African-American Republican to represent Texas in the House of Representatives in more than 100 years. In his campaign, Hurd cited his experience working overseas for the CIA and as a cybersecurity contractor. "We need to make border security, countering drug traffickers and fighting cyber criminals all national priorities," he said in an October speech.

Hurd, 37, has a computer science degree from Texas A&M University.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Nov 05, 2014 at 12:07 PM0 comments

AT&T's Kapoor wins Mendenhall award

Kay Kapoor

Kay Kapoor was honored for her "exceptional customer service, and taking care of her team."

AT&T Government Solutions President Kay Kapoor is the 2014 winner of the Janice K. Mendenhall Spirit of Leadership Award -- ACT-IAC's highest honor for contributions to the federal IT community.

Robert Suda, who presented the award Oct. 27 at ACT-IAC's Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va., noted that Mendenhall "was the epitome of the public servant," and praised Kapoor for her similar commitment to "helping government agencies and private sector companies to use technology creatively and efficiently."

"At the heart of her operational style are two key principles," Suda said: "Exceptional customer service, and taking care of her team."

Kapoor called the award "very, very humbling," and said that her commitment to the government technology space was tied in part to her own life experience. "Many of you who know me know that I came to this country as an immigrant," she said. "This may sound a little corny, but it's a little tiny way of giving back to the country that's given so much to me."

The Janice K. Mendenhall Spirit of Leadership Award, established in 2001, commemorates the life of long-time civil servant Janice Mendenhall, and her history of mentoring others and encouraging government-industry collaboration. Other recent Mendenhall winners include former Office of E-Government and IT Administrator Mark Forman (2013) and former Agriculture Department CIO Anne Reed (2012).

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Oct 28, 2014 at 7:24 AM0 comments

Commercial customs app developed by CBP employee

Customs Mobile logo.

An international trade specialist at Customs and Border Protection has created a mobile-friendly website that provides key U.S. customs-related data in real time to importers and exporters.

The site aims to help U.S. importers, foreign exporters and federal employees more easily access U.S. customs data, and help small companies work their way through a tangle of import regulations.

The site, which launched Oct. 27, is free to use, said Craig Briess, who founded the CustomsMobile company and developed the website.

He is a customs law attorney who has spent the past two years working for CBP as an international trade specialist. Although Briess is employed at CBP, CustomsMobile is a private endeavor and is not funded, approved or endorsed by the federal government, according to a statement released by the company.

When users search the CustomsMobile site, source data is fetched from the relevant federal server in real time, parsed and then presented in a mobile-friendly format. Briess said the site provides easy access to CBP's customs rulings, customs announcements, duty rates, regulations and port contact information. offers users a one-stop shop by making several tools available in a single mobile-oriented website, thereby solving the issue of having to navigate multiple government websites to access relevant information, the company said.

According to the company's statement, Briess came up with the idea for the website after having trouble finding the information he needed during trade legislation meetings.

"I needed to quickly research CBP's legal position on certain matters and then discovered that this vital information was extremely difficult to navigate on my cell phone," he said. "Considering I've used that system extensively throughout my career, it came as quite a shock."

He added that small businesses in particular often rely on customs attorneys or trade brokers and incur additional costs to wend their way through difficult, hard-to-find government regulations.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 27, 2014 at 11:17 AM0 comments

Former DIA director to join SBD Advisors

Michael Flynn

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn is the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who until August ran the Pentagon’s spy agency, will join Washington, D.C-based SBD Advisors as a consultant focusing on cybersecurity and risk management, among other issues.

There is no firm start date for Flynn at SBD Advisors, and his portfolio could include some teaching and non-profit work, said CEO Sally Donnelly, in an email to FCW.

The consulting firm has been popular with top Pentagon officials retiring to the private sector. The firm’s roster includes former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. Donnelly founded the firm (SBD stands for Sally B. Donnelly) in 2012 after working with Mullen when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Flynn took the helm of the Defense Intelligence Agency in July 2012. Prior to that, he was an assistant director of national intelligence in charge of domestic and international cooperation.

As DIA director, Flynn spoke of the convergence of cyberspace and intelligence operations, and how that affects critical infrastructure, at a Brookings Institution event last year

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:26 AM0 comments

Bhagowalia assumes CIO post at Treasury

Image copyright to <>: Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia.

Sonny Bhagowalia's first day on the job as CIO of the Treasury Department was Oct. 20.

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia has come back to the federal government to take on the role of Treasury Department CIO.

Bhagowalia confirmed the move on his LinkedIn page, saying his first official day is Oct. 20.

Bhagowalia replaces former Treasury CIO Robyn East, who held the job for three years before she announced her departure in June. Deputy CIO Mike Parker has been serving as acting CIO.

Bhagowalia previously served as CIO at the Interior Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

He also was CIO for the state of Hawaii for nearly three years before becoming a chief advisor on technology and cybersecurity to the state’s governor.

"Over the past three years, Sonny has helped Hawaii leapfrog from the back of the pack in technology and cybersecurity to the front of the line and we are now one of best in the country," Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. "Under Sonny's leadership, our government transformation program has garnered an unprecedented 25 national awards."

As CIO at Treasury, he will be managing a $3 billion IT budget and manage technology for the 100,000 employees at the department.

Last week, Bhagowalia won the 2014 Enterprise Architecture Hall of Fame Award for Individual Leadership in EA Practice, Promotion and Professionalization. He is also a three-time Fed 100 award winner.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM0 comments

CIA's Wolfe, Army's Krieger, FireEye's Cole honored at GCN gala

CIA CIO Doug Wolfe at the 2014 GCN Gala (Photo: Zaid Hamid)

CIA CIO Doug Wolfe at the 2014 GCN Gala. (Photo: Zaid Hamid)

Central Intelligence Agency CIO Doug Wolfe was named GCN's Agency Exec of the Year at the Oct. 14 GCN Gala in Tysons Corner, Va. The award recognized Wolfe's leadership in moving the intelligence community to the cloud -- a project, first reported by FCW in 2013, that became operational this summer.

Lockheed Martin's Sondra Barbour, who present Wolfe's award, said such change agency was no surprise. "Over the course of a 30-year career," she said, "Doug has led efforts to knock down barriers between silos of data and analysis...and encouraged the adoption of IT and software to traditionally slow-moving organizations."

FireEye Vice President and Global Government CTO Tony Cole won GCN's Industry Executive of the Year award, while Army Deputy CIO/GG Mike Krieger was honored with the Hall of Fame award. FCW's 2014 Rising Stars were also recognized, and 10 teams -- representing the Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Internal Revenue Service, National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Navy, along with several state and local efforts -- won the GCN awards that are the cornerstone of the event.

Details on all the award winners can be found on

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Oct 15, 2014 at 1:39 PM0 comments

Former Treasury official Gregg joins accountancy practice

revolving door

Dick Gregg, former fiscal assistant secretary of the Treasury, has joined H.J. Steininger PLLC as managing partner.

At Treasury, Gregg headed up government-wide accounting operations, and helped steer the effort to merge the Financial Management Service and the Bureau of the Public Debt into the recently established Bureau of Fiscal Service.

Gregg was also the top official leading implementation of the Data Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires agencies to make more spending data open and extensible.

H.J. Steininger, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., specializes in public sector accounting and management consulting services. Areas of focus include advising agencies on shared services, cloud computing, data center consolidation, performance management, Data Act implementation and more. The firm works with clients across civilian and defense agencies.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 03, 2014 at 8:15 AM0 comments

NOAA taps NASA satellite manager for NESDIS

NOAA logo

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration named Stephen Volz, a top NASA earth sciences satellite manager, to oversee its environmental satellites and information services.

NOAA said on Sept. 29 that it had tapped Volz to lead its National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, replacing Mary Kicza, who retired earlier this year as the NESDIS assistant administrator. Volz, said NOAA, will assume this new role Nov. 2.

As NESDIS assistant administrator, Volz will shepherd the agency's programs to build and launch the next generation of environmental satellites, including the Joint Polar Satellite System, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series, and the Deep Space Climate Observatory, known as DSCOVR, set to launch in early 2015.

The agency also said he would manage NOAA's current spacecraft fleet and NESDIS' vast climate, oceanographic and geophysical data operations.

Volz currently manages all of NASA's earth science flight missions and associated activities, including 17 satellites operating in orbit, 12 in formulation and development, and others in the early study and design stages.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 02, 2014 at 8:37 AM0 comments

Neely charged with fraud

Jeffrey Neely, testifying before the House Oversight Committee in 2012 

Former GSA Regional Commissioner Jeff Neely could face five years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.

The former government official whose spending sparked a government-wide crackdown on conferences and travel has been indicted for fraud.                 

A federal grand jury in San Francisco slapped Jeff Neely, the General Services Administration’s former Region 9 commissioner who helped plan the agency's 2010 Western Regions Conference, with five counts of fraud in an indictment handed down Sept. 25.

The Western Regions Conference boiled to the surface in 2012, as details of outlandish and lavish spending by GSA officials at the Las Vegas training event were disclosed in press reports and congressional testimony.

The GSA cut Neely loose in 2012 as the scandal deepened and news of his spending $822,000 on the conference shocked agency leaders, members of Congress and the public.

The scandal also forced then-GSA Administrator Martha Johnson to resign and left the agency reeling. President Barack Obama tapped Dan Tangherlini, the current GSA administrator, in April 2012 to help rebuild trust in the agency. Tangherlini stepped in as acting administrator after Johnson stepped down, and took over the job outright in May 2013.

The grand jury indictment charges 59-year-old Neely, of Gardnerville, Nev., with fraudulently seeking reimbursement for personal travel and expenses -- incurred in Las Vegas, Nev.; Long Beach, Calif.; Guam; and Saipan. At the time of the alleged fraud, the indictment said, Neely was the Regional Commissioner and Acting Regional Administrator for GSA’s Public Buildings Service, Pacific Rim Region, which encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and outlying territories.

The indictment also alleges that when GSA employees questioned him about the dubious expenses, Neely lied, saying the charges were incurred during government business.

According to a Sept. 25 Justice Department statement, which was also distributed by GSA, the indictment is for three counts of making false claims and two of making false statements. Neely is slated for an initial court appearance on the charges Oct. 20. If convicted, he could face five years in prison and fines totaling more than $1 million.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 26, 2014 at 7:43 AM1 comments

Data shines at the Sammies

Service to America logo.

The Partnership for Public Service's Samuel J. Heyman Service to America awards recognize individuals doing outstanding work in all corners of government, but people working with federal data stole the show at the 2014 "Sammies" presentation held Sept. 22 in Washington, D.C.

The Citizen Services Medal went to Michael Byrne, former geographic information officer at the Federal Communications Commission, who took home the honor for his work with FCC data, especially his signature accomplishment of creating the National Broadband Map.

"Michael Byrne literally put the FCC on the map," David Bray, the FCC's chief information officer, told the Partnership. "He demonstrated that you could produce maps or geospatial visualizations on critical policy issues and provide information that was not publicly available or easily accessible to the public or even to people inside the FCC itself."

Byrne, who recently left the FCC to join Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a similar role, also mapped the location of federal aid that has been awarded to bring broadband availability to schools and health care providers in rural and urban areas.

"My job has been to take this data and information that is really complicated and make a picture out if it so that it is easy to digest," Byrne said in material released by the PPS. "These maps are a way to communicate what we are doing as an agency and help better inform policymakers and the public."

Another data whiz took home one of the top honors of the evening -- the Call to Service medal.

Sara Meyers, director of the Sandy Program Management Office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was recognized for her work creating a "sophisticated" data analysis system to evaluate performance of federal housing programs, called HUDStat.

HUDStat data has been used to help find housing for homeless veterans by tracking the progress of state and local agencies. According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, there are 43 percent fewer veterans living on the street since HUDStat launched in 2010.

"HUD officials said the department has always collected a lot of data but has not always been able to use it in an effective manner," the Partnership said. "Meyers was able to turn numbers on a page into information that is understandable and used to achieve greater results."

She also played a large role in creating processes to track $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy disaster relief money in 2012 and $13.6 billion in HUD economic stimulus funding in 2009.

"By providing a relentless focus on data, people really do start paying attention," Meyers said upon accepting her award.

Other award recipients were:

Federal Employee of the Year
Rana Hajjeh and the Hib Initiative Team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received the award for their work in persuading 60 countries to use and distribute a vaccine to fight pneumonia and bacterial meningitis, expected to save the lives of 7 million children by 2020.

Career Achievement Medal
Edwin Kneedler received this honor for his work at the Justice Department as deputy solicitor general -- he has argued 125 cases and helped shape the government's legal position on hundreds more before the Supreme Court.

Homeland Security and Law Medal
The Miami HEAT (Healthcare Fraud Enforcement Action Teams) took home this award for work on health care fraud in Florida resulting in nearly 700 convictions and hundreds of millions of dollars recovered.

Management Excellence Medal
Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program at NASA, was recognized for finding new ways for NASA to partner with the private sector to reduce space travel costs.

National Security and International Affairs Medal
Benjamin Tran and Sean Young, electronics engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, received the award for their work in creating a new aerial sensor system to detect and destroy improvised explosive devices.

Science and Environment Medal
William Bauman and Ann Spungen were recognized for work improving the quality of life and health care for paralyzed and veterans. This duo comes from the National Center of Excellence for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury in the Bronx.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:24 AM0 comments

The Top 10 stories on

room of computers

Most FCW readers strive to make government work better, but in the past 12 months, they often chose to read about what went wrong:

  1. A $300 million IT flop
    The Social Security Administration hit the reset button on its claims-processing system.
  2. State’s passport and visa system crashes
    When worldwide visa and passport operations pause, people take notice.
  3. Why maps matter
    With an explosion of geodata, more and more agencies are mapping to make sense of their missions.
  4. NASA has ‘significant problems’ with $2.5 billion IT contract
    The agency’s tech is often on the cutting edge, but end-user IT deployment posed real problems.
  5. DOD’s cautious path to the cloud
    From milCloud to the need for standards beyond FedRAMP, the Pentagon is pushing for cloud services.
  6. Mail carriers get new mobile device
    BYOD wouldn’t cut it for the U.S. Postal Service’s mobile needs.
  7. How VA is driving telemedicine
    The agency has had its challenges, but it is an innovator, too.
  8. Q&A: NFFE’s Bill Dougan on IT hiring and the next government shutdown
    Hopefully, there will not be a need to revisit these lessons this fall.
  9. 10 steps toward FedRAMP compliance
    An industry expert helped readers wrap their heads around cloud security standards.
  10. Is cybersecurity the right job for you?
    The jobs are there, but they’re not for everyone.

This list is part of FCW's special Federal List issue. You can see the digital edition of the print magazine here -- and look for additional lists on in the coming days.

Posted by FCW Staff on Sep 19, 2014 at 8:01 AM0 comments

Get to know your new CTO

Newly named federal Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith is well-known in Silicon Valley circles, but the Google executive and MIT alumna is still something of a mystery to many in federal IT. So until she begins making the agency rounds, here is a taste of what makes her tick.

In this short video from February 2014, Smith discusses the importance of STEM education, and of getting more women into those fields:



And lest anyone doubt Smith's longstanding techie cred, there's this video dating back to 1992. Posted by documentary filmmaker David Hoffman, the clip shows Smith in her days as an engineer with General Magic, an early pioneer of personal digital assistant and smartphone technologies:



The tech itself may have evolved -- shoebox-sized smartphone, anyone? -- but Hoffman says that Smith conveys "that same youthful energy and enthusiasm" today. And the talk of moving fast and buying IT off the shelf sounds straight out of 2014.

Posted by FCW Staff on Sep 04, 2014 at 11:01 AM0 comments

Report: Smith as CTO is 'basically a done deal'

Megan Smith. Photo by David Sifry - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Fortune reports that Google executive Megan Smith will replace U.S. CTO Todd Park.

Megan Smith's new job as U.S. chief technology officer is all but a done deal, according to Fortune.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, the magazine's website reported that the White House will make the announcement once Smith, vice president of Google X, finishes her security vetting. Fortune reported last week that Alex Macgillivray, a former executive at Twitter and Google, was also being considered for the position.

Smith would be the third person and first woman to hold the CTO role. Todd Park, who has been the chief technologist since March 2012, announced last week that he will be stepping down and moving back to California to work as part of the White House team recruiting tech talent to the federal government.

Bloomberg reported last week that Smith was a top candidate for the role.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Sep 02, 2014 at 1:18 PM0 comments

Google's Megan Smith reportedly a top candidate for U.S. CTO

Megan Smith. Photo by David Sifry - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Less than a week after Todd Park announced he would be leaving his role as U.S. Chief Technology Officer, potential candidates to fill his role are surfacing.

Bloomberg reported on Aug. 28 that Google's Megan Smith is a top candidate for the CTO role. The White House, which officially announced on Aug 28 that Park would be leaving his role after Fortune broke the news nearly a week prior, has made no indication who will be filling the role.

Smith is a vice president at Google, and currently works on Google X, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's innovation lab. She joined Google in 2003, and has held various roles through her roughly 11-year tenure, including vice president for business development and head of the company’s philanthropic division,

Smith has also been involved with Google innovation projects like “Solve for X,” a collaborative online forum where people suggest proposals and work with others to build out ideas. Before coming to Google, she was CEO of Planet Out, a website for gay and lesbian Internet users.

And could Smith bring Park-like enthusiasm and vision to OSTP? In a 2013 Forbes article, she declared: “I think open source is an evolutionary idea for humanity, this idea of transparency. It played out for us in the technology world, but it also played out with the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission and Wikipedia. What’s exciting is hardware is becoming part of that movement.”

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Aug 28, 2014 at 4:00 PM0 comments

FCC taps Scott Jordan for CTO role

FCC Logo

Scott Jordan, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Irvine, is joining the Federal Communications Commission as chief technology officer, replacing Henning Schulzrinne.

Jordan's previous government experience includes serving on the FCC's Open Internet Technical Advisory Committee and a stint on Capitol Hill as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers congressional fellow. He's a specialist in Internet services, communications pricing and platforms, according to an FCC release.

"Scott's engineering and technical expertise, particularly with respect to the Internet, will provide great assistance to the Commission as we consider decisions that will affect America's communications platforms," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

The appointment comes as the FCC is in the midst of a controversial and divisive Open Internet proceeding that has attracted more than one million public comments -- a record outpouring for a policy issue. Jordan will work out of the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 26, 2014 at 10:09 AM0 comments

What you missed at Lollachilipalooza

National Nuclear Security Administration (Flickr): Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman leads his band, “Yellow Cake,” at “Lollachilipalooza”

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman leads his band, “Yellow Cake,” at “Lollachilipalooza.”(Photo: Flickr/NNSAnews)

Who knew the Energy Department rocked so hard? As part of the agency's "Lollachilipalooza" fundraiser for its 2014 Feds Feed Families charity effort, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman fronted his suitably named band, “Yellow Cake,” on Aug. 19 at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

 A post on the National Nuclear Security Administration's web site had photos of the event. Poneman was joined by Deputy Chief of Staff Jonathan Levy on drums, Deputy Assistant Secretary Julio Friedman on keyboards, and, according to the post, a special guest vocals by Anna Ruch from the Office of the Secretary. 

Alas, no sign of musical contributions from DOE CIO Robert Brese. 

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Aug 25, 2014 at 12:03 PM1 comments

Another CIO heads for the door

Wikimedia image: Securities and Exchange Commission logo.

Thomas Bayer, CIO at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has announced that he will be leaving the agency in October.

In his more than three years as CIO, Bayer worked on efforts to move many of the SEC's core functions to the cloud, consolidate its data centers into two locations, lower the cost of IT systems and modernize

Among some of his key initiatives, Bayer established the SEC’s Technology Center of Excellence to evaluate technology trends and how they can be leveraged for the agency. He also launched the “Working Smarter” program, which uses automated workflow and data visualization tools, and analytical systems for accountants, attorneys, analysts and other SEC staff, according to a release by the agency.

"Tom’s leadership and vision have had a tremendous impact that will continue to shape the SEC for years to come," SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said in a statement. "Tom's legacy will be an SEC that increasingly leverages technology to protect investors and strengthen our markets."

One of his other major initiatives was establishing a business information officer role at the SEC to link the IT and business side of the house and improve customer relations.

His resume is filled with some of the major national financial institutions like Capital One, and Citibank, but Bayer came to SEC in October 2010 from Maris Technology Advisors, where he was CEO for nearly three years. Before that he was COO and CTO at Brand Informatics.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Aug 21, 2014 at 7:26 AM3 comments

Another DIA departure: Gus Taveras resigns as CTO

Exit Sign

Gus Taveras is stepping down as the Defense Intelligence Agency's chief technology officer, the third high-level departure from the Pentagon's spy agency revealed in recent weeks. Taveras, who has been CTO since December 2012, confirmed the news in an Aug. 19 email to FCW.

His last day will be Aug. 22. 

Taveras said in a note posted to his LinkedIn page that he was leaving government to work for industry, without specifying where. He reflected on the intelligence community's move toward a single, standards-based IT architecture, known as ICITE. Investments in ICITE "are the building blocks for accelerating information sharing, adoption and efficiencies – all original pillars of the [director of national intelligence's] unified vision," Taveras wrote.

Prior to serving as DIA CTO, Taveras was a technical adviser to the DOD CIO and Army G2, among other positions in a career that began in 1987 as an infantryman in the Marine Corps. 

Taveras' resignation further empties DIA's leadership roster. Less than two weeks ago, David Shedd replaced Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as DIA director on an interim basis. The Washington Post reported in April that Flynn had been asked by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. to step down before his tenure was up in the wake of numerous classified leaks.

The agency is also in search of a CIO to succeed Grant Schneider, a career employee who had held the job since 2007 and is on the way out the door.

A DIA spokesman said recently that there is no timeline for naming a permanent DIA director.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Aug 19, 2014 at 9:26 AM3 comments

Nicole Wong leaving OSTP

Nicole Wong, former U.S. deputy CTO

U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Nicole Wong, who worked for Twitter and Google before entering government service, is returning to California.

After more than a year at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Nicole Wong is leaving government.

Wong's last day is Friday Aug. 15, and she will be moving back to California, an OSTP spokesperson confirmed to FCW.

Wong played a large role in the recent White House big data initiatives, including lead authorship of the May 2014 Big Data report. She was also in charge of leading privacy and Internet policy initiatives at OSTP over the past year.

"Nicole is an incredibly talented and insightful leader, who has made major contributions to big data, privacy, and Internet policy during her time at the White House," U.S. CTO Todd Park said in a statement. "We're deeply grateful to Nicole and her family for her service, and will miss her."

Prior to joining the Administration, Wong was the legal director at Twitter and vice president and deputy general counsel at Google. Wong's background is diverse, including a law degree and masters in journalism; prior to Google she worked at the Perkins Coie law firm in California.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Aug 15, 2014 at 5:18 PM0 comments

Sylvia Burns promoted to Interior CIO

Department of the Interior Logo

Sylvia Burns, an IT executive with the Department of the Interior since 2006, has been named CIO.

Burns had served as acting CIO since March 2014. Before that, she was associate deputy CIO for policy, planning and compliance.

“As acting CIO I have had the privilege of leading a dedicated team and working collaboratively with our bureaus and offices as we modernize our systems and move our IT transformation program forward,” Burns said in a statement.

Though a large, federated department, Interior has been something of a leader in the federal IT space when it comes to consolidating enterprise IT. The department announced a move to the cloud in 2013, and in 2012 the agency chose Google Gmail as its agency-wide email client.

Department of the Interior: Sylvia Burns.

Department of the Interior
CIO Sylvia Burns.

Under previous CIO Bernie Mazer, Interior embarked on an ambitious plan to trim its annual $1 billion IT budget, streamline CIO authorities and improve acquisition. As part of the plan, Interior is implementing an order that gives the CIO the delegated authority of the secretary of the Interior over enterprise-wide IT budgets, and limits the use of the CIO title to the agency-wide CIO and a deputy CIO. That order is due to be fully implemented on Burns' watch in December.

"As the department continues to move forward on critical initiatives like data center consolidation, Sylvia's leadership and collaborative style will help ensure our success in improving our IT services, while reducing our IT costs." Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Rhea Suh said in a statement.

Before joining Interior's CIO office, Burns worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an Interior Department component. She also worked in the Department of Commerce in the International Trade Administration.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 13, 2014 at 7:34 AM0 comments

Trudeau leaves GSA, heads to AWS

Lena Trudeau_GSA 

Lena Trudeau, associate commissioner for the Office of Strategic Innovations at the General Services Administration, has decamped for the private sector, FCW has learned.

Trudeau confirmed her departure to FCW, and said she starts at Amazon Web Services on Aug. 11.

In her nearly three years in government, Trudeau quickly became the face of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program and is known in the community as a zealous advocate for government innovation.

Trudeau has also been acting as executive director of the 18F team at GSA, following the departure of David McClure, former associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at GSA, who was overseeing the office. (In a recent essay for FCW, Trudeau addressed industry questions and concerns about the role of 18F.)

Greg Godbout will be taking over for Trudeau as executive director of 18F, and fellow 18F’er Garren Givens will be in charge of the PIF program.

Before coming to GSA in 2011, Trudeau was with the National Academy of Public Administration for several years, acting as program director for strategic initiatives, vice president and eventually GSA project director.

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Aug 11, 2014 at 5:28 AM0 comments

Army names new commander for cyber training center

Stephen Fogarty and LaWarren Patterson

Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty (left) is taking over the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence while Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson moves to the Installation Management Command.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno announced a change in command at the Army's main cybersecurity training center on Aug. 1.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, who most recently led the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, will replace Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson as commanding general of the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Ga. Patterson is set to be deputy commanding general for operations and chief of staff at the Army's Installation Management Command, Joint Base San Antonio.

In announcing last December that its Cyber Command would be housed at Fort Gordon, the Army described the Cyber Center of Excellence as "a focal point for cyber doctrine and capabilities development, training and innovation."

In an interview with FCW in late 2012, Fogarty detailed the benefits of the Army's Distributed Common Ground System, a database for collecting and disseminating intelligence that has drawn scrutiny on Capitol Hill for delays in its implementation.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Aug 01, 2014 at 9:38 AM0 comments

May gets nod for permanent NIST job

Image from Willie May.

Willie May is a 42-year veteran of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Willie May, who has been running the National Institute of Standards and Technology in an acting capacity for some time now, was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 28 to be NIST director and Commerce Department undersecretary for standards and technology.

A 42-year veteran of NIST, May became acting director on June 13, when Patrick Gallagher stepped down to become chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. Gallagher, however, had been serving as Commerce's acting deputy secretary for more than a year, with May effectively heading NIST in the interim.

If confirmed by the Senate, May would officially take over an agency responsible for establishing security standards for federal information systems, voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for the private sector, and measurement and technical standards for a range of scientific, manufacturing, industrial and technological areas.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 29, 2014 at 8:11 AM0 comments

Senate confirms Creedon at NNSA

Madelyn Creedon

Madelyn Creedon previously served as deputy administrator for defense programs at the NNSA.

The Senate confirmed a new second-in-command for the agency in charge of the safety, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear device and materials stockpile.

Madelyn Creedon was confirmed July 23 as the Department of Energy’s principal deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Nominated for the position last November, Creedon will support NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz in managing the agency and contribute on policy matters across the DOE and NNSA enterprise. NNSA was created in 1999 as a semi-autonomous agency operating under DOE.

“Madelyn Creedon’s confirmation comes at a critical point for the National Nuclear Security Administration,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement following her confirmation. “She is well-prepared for her new role at the department.”

Creedon had served as assistant secretary of Defense for global strategic affairs since 2011, where she oversaw policy development and execution in the areas of countering weapons of mass destruction, U.S. nuclear forces and missile defense, as well as DoD cybersecurity and space issues.

She has also served as counsel for the Democratic staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In 2000, she left the Armed Services panel to become deputy administrator for defense programs at the NNSA, and returned to the committee in January 2001. Prior to joining the Armed Services Committee staff in March 1997, she was associate deputy secretary of Energy for national security programs, beginning in October 1995.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 24, 2014 at 8:43 AM0 comments

Head of DHS cyber hub stepping down

Larry Zelvin

Larry Zelvin will step down in mid-August as head of the Department of Homeland Security’s hub for monitoring and responding to cyber threats, a DHS spokesman told FCW.

Zelvin, a former Navy captain, has been director of DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center since June 2012. Before that he was director of incident management on the president’s National Security Staff, now known as the National Security Council Staff.

Zelvin has been the NCCIC’s public face, appearing at cybersecurity conferences to meet with industry experts and on Capitol Hill to testify on behalf of the Obama administration.

Last month he joined a chorus of administration officials calling on Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation, telling FCW that DHS’s statutory authority on cybersecurity needs clarifying.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jul 22, 2014 at 2:23 PM0 comments

It's all about priorities, people

John Klossner for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Jul 21, 2014 at 12:56 PM0 comments

Vion hires former DISA official to lead cyber solutions

Image from Shutterstock.

Richard Breakiron, a 2012 Federal 100 winner and former senior official at the Defense Information Systems Agency, is headed to Vion as senior director of cyber solutions, the Herndon, Va.-based IT infrastructure firm said.

Breakiron was previously DISA's executive program director for the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) and prior to that oversaw modernization of the Army's servicewide network in its CIO office.

In his new role, Breakiron will market Vion's cloud products and services and other IT infrastructure to U.S. military branches, DISA and security agencies, the firm said.

He "is widely known in the defense community for his network modernization efforts, especially for his focus on [Multiprotocol Label Switching] and his work to consolidate and harden the JRSS program," Vion CEO Tom Frana said in a statement.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jul 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM0 comments

Call for all applicants: DIA needs a CIO

help wanted sign

Can you or someone you know affect strategic change -- or foster “creative tension” -- within an agency? Quickly ascertain "the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization?" Oh, and carry Top Secret/SCI clearance? If so, the Defense Intelligence Agency might be interested in speaking with you as it searches for a new CIO.

The successful applicant could earn up to $181,500 a year.

DIA has cast itself as a catalyst for innovation in the intelligence community, with Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn urging an overhaul of how the agency cultivates ideas and technology. The CIO will undoubtedly be part of those efforts.

Of course, there is the small matter that DIA has a CIO -- Grant Schneider, a career employee, has held that job since 2007. Schneider is out of the office this week, and an agency spokesman could not provide details on the reason for or timing of Schneider's presumed departure.

In any case, those hoping to be the next CIO had better move quickly -- applications are being accepted only through July 25.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jul 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM3 comments

Booz Allen CEO to retire at year's end

Horacio Rozanski, BAH

Horacio Rozanski, who currently serves as president and chief operating officer, will succeed CEO Ralph Shrader on Jan. 1, 2015

The management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton on July 14 announced that CEO Ralph Shrader will retire at the end of 2014. Horacio Rozanski, who currently serves as president and chief operating officer, will succeed Shrader on Jan. 1, 2015, and has been named to the firm's board of directors effective immediately.

Shrader has been with Booz Allen Hamilton for four decades, and led the firm's initial public offering in November 2010. Rozanski joined the firm in 1992. He was elected vice president in 1999, appointed chief personnel officer in 2003, named chief strategy and talent officer in 2010, chief operating officer in 2011, and president in 2014.

Booz Allen Hamilton ranked #7 on Washington Technology's 2014 Top 100 list of federal contractors, with $3.4 billion in 2013 federal contracts for IT, systems integration, telecom, professional services and other high-tech business.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:35 AM1 comments

ITI adds Hill veteran to government affairs team

US Capitol

The Information Technology Industry Council named long-time House Energy and Commerce Committee counsel Shannon Taylor as its director of government affairs/legislative counsel.

ITI said said in a July 11 statement that Taylor's first day on the job will be July 21, and she will be a lead government affairs liaison with members of the House.

"Shannon is a welcome addition to our government affairs team," said ITI Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Andy Halataei. "With her background providing trusted counsel and policy guidance to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on issues of importance for the tech sector, Shannon will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to ITI's member companies."

Taylor has more than 11 years of legislative affairs experience, serving most recently for eight years as a counsel for commerce, manufacturing, and trade on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where her work included privacy, data breach and patent policy. Before that she was a counsel on what is now the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Taylor began her Capitol Hill career working as a legislative counsel for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM0 comments

Air Force major general tapped for No. 2 spot at Cyber Command

Major General James K.

Maj. Gen. James “Kevin” McLaughlin is a 31-year Air Force veteran.

Air Force Maj. Gen. James “Kevin” McLaughlin was nominated to be the number two commander at U.S. Cyber Command in Fort Meade, Md., the Pentagon announced July 8.

McLaughlin is currently commander of the 24th Air Force, the service’s major cyberspace component whose Air Force Space Command center is housed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. He is also commander of Air Forces Cyber at U.S. Cyber Command on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

McLaughlin entered the Air Force in 1983, according to a Pentagon bio.

He was named director of the Air Force’s space and cyber operations in January 2012.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jul 08, 2014 at 8:45 AM0 comments

VA deputy CIO resigns

Exit Sign

Lorraine Landfried, deputy CIO for product development at the Department of Veterans Affairs, has submitted her resignation, FCW has learned.

Landfried plans to leave the agency July 19 and is launching her own business with the working title of Landfried Government Solutions. While Landfried can't officially hang out a shingle while she still works for the government, she told FCW she plans to do strategic consulting, executive coaching and advisory services that will draw on her decades-long career in government.

"I'm very excited. I've been a civil servant since I was 21, so I'm definitely ready to try something new," Landfried said.

Landried joined the VA in 2009. Previously, she had worked at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office for Information and Technology as executive director of enterprise data management and engineering. She started her government career as a computer programmer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Landfried won a Federal 100 award in 2013, when she was cited for improving the VA's "on time" program delivery rate to 89 percent, a dramatic improvement over previous performance by the VA's Office of Information Technology. She also helped put development at VA on an agile footing, and is involved in government-wide efforts to spread the agile development method across agencies.

Her departure comes amid major changes at the top level of VA. Former Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald was tapped by President Barack Obama to lead the agency after Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over persistent problems and workarounds in scheduling medical appointments. The VA's OIT, meanwhile, is in the midst of a procurement of a new commercial scheduling system to interface with the agency's home-grown electronic health record, VistA.

Landfried said she is confident that the VA will be able to tap its agile expertise to fix the scheduling problems, and give managers more oversight and visibility into the system. There are interim fixes in the works that will improve how end users see available appointments, Landfried said, and those short improvements will help pave the way for eventually integrating a commercial system into VistA.

"There's no reason to think it won't be successful, because every time we've used that [agile] approach, it has been successful," she told FCW.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 07, 2014 at 2:31 PM3 comments

Veteran DOD procurement official Ginman to retire

Richard Ginman is a retired rear admiral who held multiple acquisition leadership positions in the Navy.

Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy Richard Ginman will retire after three years at that post and four decades in government and commercial contracting, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed June 25.  

No retirement date was announced for Ginman, perhaps the Defense Department’s most experienced procurement official.

News of Ginman’s retirement, first reported by Federal News Radio, came via a memo, signed by DOD Director of Defense Pricing Shay Assad, announcing a contracting officer award in Ginman’s name.

As director of DPAP, Ginman has been responsible for implementation and oversight of DOD’s main acquisition regulations. A retired rear admiral, he previously held multiple acquisition leadership positions in the Navy.

Ginman also chairs the Government Accountability and Transparency Board, which President Barack Obama established by executive order in June 2011 to guide the use of integrating systems for displaying federal spending data.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 25, 2014 at 7:46 AM1 comments

Report: U.S. Marshals’ email folly ruins bitcoin auction


The U.S. Marshals Service botched what was supposed to be an anonymous $18-million bitcoin auction by replying all to an email with bidders’ names and addresses, according to a TechCrunch report. The technical folly apparently happened when one of the bidders asked a question and the Marshals’ office copied 40 other bidders on the reply.

The auction is for some 30,000 bitcoins, valued at about $18 million, seized by the government from Silk Road, a black market for drugs shut down last year by the FBI.

Registration for the auction runs June 16-23, according to an agency announcement. The U.S. Marshals Service could not be reached for comment.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said in February that more institutions need to register with her office if it is to successfully block cyber funding for criminals and terrorists.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM1 comments

Do More 24: Like a code sprint for charity

Do More 24 Logo

Supporting area charities is nothing new for the federal IT community, but this week offers the chance for a focused sprint in support of the needy.

June 19 is the date of Do More 24 -- a 24-hour crowdfunding campaign organized by the United Way of the National Capital Area. Last year's Do More 24 raised $1.3 million from some 11,000 donors to support local nonprofits. Unisys Federal Systems President (and 2011 Federal 100 winner) Ted Davies, who chairs the United Way NCA board of directors, is hoping for an even stronger showing this year.

A full calendar of fund-raising events for the 19th can be found on the Do More 24 website, along with details on other ways to support the campaign.

Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:34 PM0 comments

Where the innovation really happens

John Klossner for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM0 comments

New CIO at Commerce an old government hand

revolving door

Steve Cooper, the Homeland Security Department’s first CIO, is returning to government as CIO of the Commerce Department, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Cooper, who held the same post at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department, left government in early 2013 and, according to his LinkedIn profile, is currently a partner at the Strativest Group.

At Commerce, Cooper will succeed Simon Szykman, who announced his impending departure in February.

Posted by John Bicknell on Jun 12, 2014 at 8:15 AM0 comments

Jennifer Kerber joins GSA

Jennifer Kerber

Jennifer Kerber, a former executive for TechAmerica Foundation and the Government Transformation Group will focus on the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange.

The General Services Administration's Office of Citizens Services and Technologies has a new addition to its team: former TechAmerica Foundation president Jennifer Kerber.

In the last few months OCSIT lost two major cloud leaders, David McClure and Katie Lewin, and now Kerber will be stepping into her first federal government position as director of Federal Cloud Credential Exchange program. GSA announced early on June 9 that Kerber "will be working in partnership with our FCCX team and our agency partners," the U.S. Postal Service and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Since April of last year, Kerber has served as executive director of the Government Transformation Group, a non-profit coalition that works to improve the effectiveness of federal government.

Prior to that, she was at TechAmerica for several years in various roles, until January 2012 when she was named president of the TechAmerica Foundation. Kerber filled that role for more than a year.

Olga Grkavac, a former head of public sector at TechAmerica, met Kerber when she came in to interview at the association.

"One of the many reasons we hired her was because of her rare expertise in identity management issues," Grkavac said. "She has such a passion for the issues, and loved working with industry and government."

OCSIT certainly has plenty on its plate in the coming months. In March it launched 18F, a government IT consulting office at GSA, which is rumored to be hiring up to 50 new employees before the end of the summer. And now that the FedRAMP deadline has passed, management of cloud government-wide will be of even greater import.

Kerber is no stranger to cloud -- at TechAmerica she worked on the Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud, CLOUD2, in 2011 -- work that earned her a 2012 Federal 100 award. It was one of the first notable studies on cloud of its time, and is still looked to by many cloud leaders in government. Grkavac said no matter what challenge is thrown at her, Kerber will be successful.

"It's her passion that really raises her even above other outstanding people," Grkavac said. "Her desire to do the best job possible and her dedication."

Posted by Colby Hochmuth on Jun 09, 2014 at 6:24 AM1 comments

Welcome to @CIA

Social Media Tree

The CIA’s latest intrigue is to join Twitter and Facebook. The spy agency sent out its first tweet the afternoon of June 6, which said in jest: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” The message has been re-tweeted about 98,000 times and the CIA has more than 125,000 followers as of this writing.

The social-media operation will help the agency “directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA’s mission, history and other developments,” Director John Brennan said in a statement. “We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission.”

The Twitter and Facebook feeds will include news and career information, along with “artifacts” from the CIA’s museum, the agency said.

The CIA’s further embrace of social media (it is already on Flickr and YouTube) comes as the Obama administration seeks to restore public trust in America’s spy agencies. Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency was collecting bulk phone records of U.S. citizens, among other surveillance programs.

The administration faces a somewhat skeptical public. A January poll from the Associated Press and GfK found that more than 60 percent of Americans surveyed said it was more important for the government to safeguard their civil rights than protect them against terrorism.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 06, 2014 at 1:44 PM1 comments

McClure: 'Definitely, I'm not done yet'

"Don’t call it a trailer." David McClure's "luxury motor coach" got star billing at a June 3 retirement reception organized by ACT-IAC. The hood ornament in the photo is McClure's 2012 Eagle award.

Today, David McClure and his wife Trish are in their motor home, embarking on a five-week road trip through New England and eastern Canada. On the evening of June 3, however, they were in the basement of Hill Country BBQ, where dozens of longtime colleagues and other leaders of the federal IT community gathered to praise and roast the just-retired head of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

"FedRAMP would not have happened" without McClure's leadership, former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires declared. Mark Forman, the first federal administrator for e-Government and IT, said, "Dave has been the principle thought leader" for every major piece of IT legislation in the past 20 years. Karen Evans, who succeeded Forman in that post, praised McClure for guidance that she said was critical to her success -- a role that virtually everyone who took the stage said McClure had played for them as well.  

Kathy Conrad and Martha Dorris, two of McClure's principle deputies at OCSIT, presented the requisite gag gifts -- including "tech-guy fancy socks" that unfortunately came after federal CIO Steven VanRoekel had slipped out the door -- and gave their former boss plenty of ribbing about his "luxury motor coach." But after various speakers had labeled McClure as "dangerous," "dapper," "demon" and "da Vinci Dave," Conrad's alliteration was simple: "The reality is, he's just a delightful guy."

McClure, whose final day in government was May 30, made clear that he would be returning to federal IT soon enough -- though he said part of his road-trip agenda would be to think about "who I'm going to work with."

Too many interesting challenges in federal IT remain for him to stay on the road for too long, McClure said. "Definitely, I'm not done yet."

Note: This article was updated on June 4 to correct the spelling of Conrad's first name. 

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 04, 2014 at 10:15 AM0 comments

Changes at the top for NGA

Letitia Long_NGA

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Letitia Long will be replaced by Deputy Director of National Intelligence Robert Cardillo when she retires later this year.

Deputy Director of National Intelligence Robert Cardillo will head the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency starting in October, the Defense Department announced June 2. Outgoing NGA Director Letitia Long will retire later this year.

Cardillo has been deputy DNI for intelligence integration since September 2010, when the position was established. He has also held top posts in the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Since Long took over at NGA in August 2010, the agency moved from “providing static products, such as maps,” to offering geospatial intelligence in varied formats to “users on all security domains,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Map of the World, a visual mix of intelligence from top-secret, classified and unclassified networks, is perhaps the agency’s prime geospatial tool. Capabilities like that make NGA the intelligence agency best suited to turn big data into actionable intelligence, Long told FCW in April.

“Tish Long and Robert Cardillo both have led the transformation of intelligence to address the complex global strategic challenges we face as a nation,” Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers said in a statement. Long once held Vickers’s job, and has also served as deputy director of DIA and of Naval Intelligence, and as executive director of what is now the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

In a message to NGA staff, Long called Cardillo “a truly distinguished intelligence professional who knows the intelligence community, NGA and many of our employees well," according to a DOD statement.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 02, 2014 at 9:56 AM0 comments

VanRoekel, McCaul tapped for TechAmerica awards

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, shown here at a 2012 NIST event

Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel is being honored by TechAmerica for his work in transforming how government buys and uses technology.

The technology trade association TechAmerica named federal CIO Steve VanRoekel as its government technology executive of the year and Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul as its legislator of the year.

TechAmerica cited VanRoekel for his work in transforming how government buys and uses technology, including cloud computing and data center consolidation policies that have driven savings, an emphasis on cybersecurity, improving citizen services, and releasing government data for use by the private sector.

McCaul is being honored for his work as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in advocating improved technologies in border protection and cybersecurity, as well as his oversight of management at the Department of Homeland Security.

The awards will be presented at TechAmerica's annual Technology & Government dinner on June 12.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 30, 2014 at 9:18 AM0 comments

Vice chair promoted to top spot at FirstNet

Sue Swenson's tenure as chairwoman of FirstNet will last three years.

Sue Swenson, a longtime telecommunications executive, was named by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to take over leadership of the FirstNet board of directors. She replaces the agency's first chairman, Sam Ginn, who will remain on the board until his term expires in August.

FirstNet is leading an effort to build a nationwide, interoperable public safety mobile broadband communications network that can connect state, local, and federal first responders. The agency, a component of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Agency, is still in the process of staffing up to oversee construction of the network. Ginn, 78, came out of retirement to launch the FirstNet board in 2012. Swenson joined as vice-chairwoman last December. Her term as chairwoman will last three years.

Swenson takes over at a critical time, as FirstNet is planning to develop a series of requests for proposals covering the construction of the network as well as for equipment and services. The plan is being funded by $7 billion in anticipated proceeds from an upcoming spectrum auction. FirstNet's plan is to incorporate existing network assets wherever possible, rather than building capacity from scratch. In a FirstNet blog post, Swenson promised more updates on implementation plans at a board meeting next week.

The agency also announced that Acting Deputy CTO Jeff Bratcher is joining FirstNet on a permanent basis. He had been detailed to FirstNet's technical headquarters in Boulder, Colo., from NTIA. Bratcher will continue to lead the teams that are creating the technical specifications for the network.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Davie wins ACT-IAC's 2014 Franke Award

Mary Davie 2014

Mary Davie was honored by ACT-IAC for her years of championing collaboration at GSA. (Photo: Zaid Hamid) 

The General Services Administration's Mary Davie is the recipient of this year's John J. Franke Award from ACT-IAC. Davie, the assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, accepted the award May 19 at the Management of Change Conference in Cambridge, Md.

David McClure, associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies and the winner of last year's Franke Award, praised Davie for her collaborative approach, commitment to staff, and willingness to take risks. "She has always championed the improvement of government for the entire American public," he said, and "her priorities have always been about helping other agencies."

Davie, who declared herself "completely flattered and honored," has spent her entire 25-year career at GSA.  Given that agency's role in supporting the rest of government, she said, "it became clear to me pretty quickly that collaboration, communication, openness is the way that it has to be to make government run more effectively." 

Davie is a three-time Federal 100 winner, earning the award most recently in 2013 for her work as acting FAS commissioner. 

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 then director of the Federal Quality Institute. Franke died in 1991. 

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 20, 2014 at 6:20 AM0 comments

Alexander: Big data 'is what it's all about'

Keith Alexander, DOD photo

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander fears anti-agency sentiment will drive away the young workers needed to keep the country safe..

Perhaps not surprisingly, former National Security Director Keith Alexander focuses on data that's big and secure, not open.

Speaking at ACT-IAC's Management of Change Conference on May 19, Alexander declared that, when it comes to federal IT, open data and big data are "what it's all about." But while leveraging open data is a key focus of the conference, Alexander pivoted immediately to his former agency's mandate to gather and secure information -- and to arguing NSA's case in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

Alexander noted that the intelligence community only "collects what we are asked to collect," and said that "the one thing we failed on was protecting data from those ... we trusted." He suggested again that Snowden had motives others than whistleblowing ("he might have gotten lost along the way, but ... it benefits the country he is currently sitting in"), and said agencies must put more emphasis on guarding against insider threats. 

Continuous monitoring will be key, Alexander said, quipping: "You're looking at the guy who's like, 'I'm all for that!'" He noted more seriously, however, that 50 percent of employees take data with them when they leave a job -- and that "not everybody needs all the data."

And at the NSA, departing employees worry Alexander for a very different reason, he said. He praised the young workers in the intelligence community, and stressed the 400 hours of training they get on the proper use of the data they see -- "people don't understand how much training we get," he said.  

But the blowback against the NSA's data collection, Alexander said -- and the restrictions being put on future efforts as a result -- risks driving some of that young talent out of the intelligence community. And he argued that media reports and congressional critics have distorted the story. 

"People keep asking me, 'why are you still defending the NSA?'" Alexander said.  "The reason I keep fighting is that if [those talented young workers] leave, it hurts the country." 

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 19, 2014 at 8:47 AM0 comments

AFFIRM announces Leadership Award winners

David McClure speaking

David McClure, the soon-to-retire associate administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, is among the many 2014 AFFIRM Leadership Award winners.

The Association for Federal Information Resources Management announced the recipients of its 2014 Leadership Awards, a list that includes CIOs, senators and business leaders.

Darren Ash, CIO at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was the recipient of the Executive Leadership Award in Information Resources Management in a civilian agency. Michael Krieger, deputy CIO for the Army, was the recipient for a defense agency.

David McClure, associate administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Communications, was the Career Leadership awardee. McClure announced last month he is leaving GSA at the end of May.

The awards will be presented June 12 at Washington’s Capital Hilton.

Other recipients were:

  • Kshemendra Paul, Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, Michael Howell, Deputy Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, and Michael Kennedy, Architecture & Interoperability Executive for the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, for Information Resources Management (Intelligence)
  • Paul Wester, Chief Records Officer for U.S. Government, National Archives, for Government-wide Electronic Records Management
  • Teresa Bozzelli, President, Sapient Government Services, Executive Leadership Award for Industry
  • Sens. Jerry Moran (R–Kansas) and Tom Udall (D–N.M.), Congressional Leadership Award
  • Dan Milano Acting Director of Office of IT, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for Acquisition and Procurement
  • Mark Orndorff, Chief Information Assurance Executive, DISA, for Cybersecurity
  • Carlene C. Ileto, Executive Director, Enterprise Business Management Office, Department of Homeland Security, for Enterprise IT Business Management
  • Brian Abrahamson, CIO, Pacific Northwest National Lab, for Innovative Applications
  • Sylvia Burns, Acting Chief Information Officer, Department of the Interior, for IT Transformation
  • Alissa Johnson, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Executive Office of the President, for IT Management
  • Dawn Leaf, Deputy CIO, Department of Labor, for Service Excellence
  • Steven Schliesman, Director, Benefits Product Division, Department of Veterans Affairs, for Service to the Citizen
  • Jenny Stack and Monica Grusche, COR/COTR WebOPSS IT Program Manager and Web OPSS Program Manager, Federal Aviation Administration, for Service to the Country
  • Kirit Amin, Deputy CIO and Chief Technology Officer, Department of Commerce, for Service to the Government IT Community
  • Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Associate Director, Office of Small Business Programs, Army Corps of Engineers, for Small Business (Individual)
  • Mariana Pardo, Director, and the SBA HUBZone Program Team, Small Business Administration, for Small Business (Team)
  • Vaughn Noga, Acting Director, Office of Administration, Office of Administrator and Resource Management, Environmental Protection Agency, for Technology Innovation
  • Francis Rose, Host, In Depth with Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, and Christopher J. Dorobek, Founder, Editor and Publisher, GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER, for Media
  • Relmond Van Daniker, Executive Director, Association of Government Accountants, Special Recognition

Posted by Reid Davenport on May 16, 2014 at 12:41 PM0 comments

East retiring as Treasury CIO

revolving door

Treasury Department CIO Robyn East is retiring next month after three years on the job, the latest move in what has become a CIO shuffle in the past several months.

Deputy CIO Mike Parker will take over as acting CIO, Federal News Radio reported.

East came to Treasury in April 2011 from the University of North Carolina, where she was deputy CIO for six years.

She joins a growing list of federal CIOs to leave their jobs recently, including Teri Takai at the Defense Department, Bernie Mazer at the Interior Department and Simon Szykman at the Commerce Department. Navy Department CIO Terry Halvorsen is replacing Takai on an acting basis at the Pentagon. CIOs at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration left for other government posts in recent months.

Posted by FCW Staff on May 15, 2014 at 11:45 AM0 comments

Halvorsen named acting CIO at Pentagon

Terry Halvorsen

Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen will replace Teri Takai as Defense Department CIO on an acting basis.

Terry Halvorsen is leaving his post as Navy CIO to be acting CIO for the Defense Department, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed May 13.

Halvorsen’s first day as DOD CIO will be May 21, said spokesperson Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson. The decision to appoint Halverson interim Pentagon CIO was handed down May 12 in an internal memo from Deputy Secretary Robert Work.

There is no indication that Halvorsen’s tenures as Navy and DOD CIO will overlap, the spokesperson said, adding that there is no timetable for naming a permanent CIO at the Pentagon.  

Halvorsen, a 2010 Federal 100 winner, takes over for Teri Takai, who left the department May 2. 

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM1 comments

Four join PSC's Technology Policy Council board

revolving door

The Professional Services Council has added four tech firm executives to its Technology Policy Council’s Executive Advisory Board.

Kay Kapoor, president of AT&T Government Services, Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon Web Services Global Public Sector, Greg Baroni, chairman and CEO of Attain LLC, and Steven Roth, chief operating officer of Preferred Systems Solutions, were named to the board, the group said in a news release.

The Technology Policy Council was launched in March in “recognition of the convergence taking place between the technology and professional services sectors and the many issues associated with that convergence," PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway said at the time.

Anne Altman, IBM's general manager for federal government and industries, oversees the board for the group.

Other members of the panel are Pat Finn, senior vice president of Cisco's U.S. Public Sector Organization; Wes Anderson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Services at Microsoft; George Newstrom, president of Dell Services Federal Government; Randy Fuerst, president and chief operating officer of Oceus Networks; and Robin Lineberger, head of Deloitte's Aerospace and Defense Practice.

Posted by Jonathan Lutton on May 13, 2014 at 1:59 PM0 comments

Projects that didn't make the Fed 100 cut

Klossner Cartoon - Fed 100

Learn more about the people who did make the 2014 Federal 100, and the work they accomplished, here.

Posted by John Klossner on May 12, 2014 at 8:35 AM0 comments

Balderson to lead Northrop Grumman contracting

revolving door

Defense technology giant Northrop Grumman named Diane Balderson vice president of contracts and pricing, a duty she will officially take over from incumbent Harry Q.H. Lee at year’s end.

The position oversees companywide contracts and pricing policy along with Northrop Grumman’s review of contract risk.

Balderson was most recently head of contracting for the Naval Air Systems Command, managing $30 billion in annual “contractual obligations and expenditures,” the Falls Church, Va.-based firm said, adding that she was the first civilian to lead NAVAIR’s contracting organization.

She was also contracting department head for NAVAIR Air Assault and Special Missions, and previously held top contracting posts in the Environmental Protection Agency, according to her Northrop-furnished bio.

She “brings 33 years of experience in U.S. government acquisition leadership, 21 of which she was a member of the federal Senior Executive Service,” James Palmer, corporate vice president at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. “She has led a broad range of large contracting organizations and has executed complex business deals for both defense and civil agencies.”

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on May 06, 2014 at 6:12 AM0 comments

Former Unisys exec joins ICE as CIO

revolving door

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's new CIO comes to the agency from the private sector.

Kevin Kern, a former senior vice president and CIO at Unisys, will be the Homeland Security Department component’s new CIO.

Kern will replace Thomas Michelli, who became the Coast Guard's deputy CIO in February. The Coast Guard's current CIO, Rear Adm. Robert Day, who also serves as commander of Coast Guard Cyber Command, has said he plans to retire this summer.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on May 06, 2014 at 12:44 PM0 comments

Obama taps IRS vet for OMB controller post

revolving door

President Barack Obama will nominate former IRS CIO David Arthur Mader for the post of controller at the Office of Federal Financial Management.

Mader's government service dates back to the 1970s. He worked at the IRS between 1971 and 2003, and served variously as acting deputy commissioner for modernization and CIO, and as chief for management and finance. He comes to the OMB post from Booz Allen, where he is senior vice president for strategy and organization. He has also worked in the public sector practice at Sirota Survey Intelligence.

The OMB controller post has been something of a revolving door in recent months. Danny Werfel, who held the post during Obama's first term, decamped to the IRS to take over the agency during a political crisis. Norman Dong served as acting controller before taking a senior post at the General Services Administration.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 02, 2014 at 11:05 AM0 comments

Brubaker heads to AirWatch

Paul Brubaker and Elizabeth McGrath at the 2014 Federal 100 gala

Paul Brubaker, shown here with former Defense Department Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath at the 2014 Federal 100 gala, will join AirWatch on May 5.

Outgoing Defense Department Director of Planning and Performance Management Paul Brubaker will be joining AirWatch, the VMware-owned mobile security and enterprise mobility management provider.

Brubaker's last day at DOD was May 2; he starts at AirWatch on May 5 as director for the federal market.

AirWatch Chairman Alan Dabbiere said his firm sees federal agencies "as an important strategic market that has incredible potential for dramatically improving its operations and outcomes through broader deployment of secure mobility. We're excited to have Paul join the AirWatch team to lead our federal government expansion."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 02, 2014 at 1:57 PM0 comments

The downside of big data

Klossner cartoon for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM0 comments

Pentagon: IT departures won't disrupt relations with industry

Image of the Pentagon

The Pentagon does not see the resignation of CIO Teri Takai and other senior officials as disrupting its coordination with industry on IT issues, Defense Press Secretary John Kirby said April 29 in a briefing with reporters.

"I don't foresee there's going to be any drop off or degradation of our coordination and relationship with industry as a result of this," Kirby said. "Ms. Takai has done a great job in that regard and ... I think she has worked very hard to make sure that that kind of collaboration can continue and we look forward to that."

Takai revealed she was stepping down as DOD's top IT officer in an April 28 email to staff. Her deputy, Robert Carey, left DOD for the private sector in late March, while the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer -- another important IT policy driver -- has seen three officials leave since last summer.

The CIO is "a critical part of this department and a critical capability that we've got to continue to improve," Kirby said April 29. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "knows it's an important job, wants to fill it [and] wants to fill it with the right person. It's more important that we get the right talent in there than we do it quickly," he added.

The Pentagon has no timeline for replacing Takai as CIO, Kirby said, adding that the department would like to find a permanent replacement as soon as possible.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 29, 2014 at 11:59 AM2 comments

NOAA CIO headed to Justice

revolving door

Joseph F. Klimavicz will take over the CIO slot at the Justice Department next month, filling the seat left vacant when Luke McCormack moved to the Homeland Security Department last November.

Klimavicz has been CIO for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since 2007.

As NOAA’s CIO, Kilmavicz strengthened cyber security, expanded high performance computing and modernized many of its business systems.

“Joe has the leadership and technical skills needed to oversee the Justice Department’s information management and technology programs,” Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said in a press release. “Joe is well positioned to lead the department’s efforts to continue to enhance our cyber security protections and our law enforcement sharing programs.”

Kevin Deeley will return to his role as deputy CIO after serving as acting CIO since McCormack’s departure.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM0 comments

Takai to leave DOD

Defense Department CIO Teri Takai speaking at a Feb. 20, 2014, press conference.

Defense Department CIO Teri Takai told her staff on April 28 that she will step down in May.

Defense Department CIO Teri Takai is leaving the Pentagon, a spokesperson confirmed April 28. Her last day will be May 2.

The department has no immediate plans to name a successor, the spokesperson said.

Takai became DOD's CIO in October 2010 after a drawn-out process that ended with President Barack Obama withdrawing her nomination and the Pentagon restructuring the position so that it no longer required Senate confirmation.

In her email message to staff, Takai stressed the progress made on aligning DOD's "vast IT networks and resources to move toward a Joint Information Environment," as well as her office's work on cloud and mobile-first initiatives. She also announced an all-hands meeting for April 30.

Takai's departure adds to a growing list of exits by DOD executives. Former Deputy CIO Robert Carey left the Pentagon for the private sector in late March, while the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer -- another key driver of IT -- has seen DCMO Elizabeth McGrath, Director of Planning and Performance Management Paul Brubaker and Assistant DCMO David Wennergren leave since last summer.

Takai, who had previously served as CIO for California and Michigan, has been mentioned in recent months as a candidate for the New York City CIO position. She did not respond to inquiries regarding her plans.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:55 PM5 comments

Brubaker leaving DOD

Paul Brubaker and Elizabeth McGrath at the 2014 Federal 100 gala

Paul Brubaker, shown here with former Defense Department Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath at the 2014 Federal 100 gala, announced to his staff on April 25 that he is leaving the DCMO office for the private sector

Paul Brubaker, the Defense Department's director of planning and performance management in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, is returning to the private sector. Brubaker shared the news with his staff the morning of April 25.

"This was not a decision that was made easily," Brubaker told his team in an email obtained by FCW. "As some of you know, almost 30 years ago I decided to dedicate my career to making government work better. ... Please know that my decision to change positions at this time remains consistent with my continued desire to play a role in positively transforming government."

Brubaker's last day at DOD will be May 2.  

Brubaker has held a number of leadership positions in both government and the private sector. A former GAO evaluator, he has served as an investigator, deputy staff director and minority staff director of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, where he worked with then-Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) in the effort to enact the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Brubaker is a two-time presidential appointee, serving first as deputy CIO of the Defense Department under President Bill Clinton, then as the Transportation Department's Research and Innovative Technology Administrator under President George W. Bush. He has been in his current Pentagon post since January 2013.

Brubaker's email to staff did not specify his future plans, and he declined to answer FCW's questions on that topic while still in the government's employ. 

No stranger to industry, Brubaker has served as CEO, CMO and in other executive roles at several successful technology-services companies, including Commerce One and Cisco, where he led the North American Public Sector's Internet Business Solutions Group.

He has also served as chairman of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, and is a two-time winner of FCW's Federal 100 award.

Brubaker’s move is the latest in a series of high-level departures from the DCMO office, which is tasked with synchronizing, integrating and coordinating all DOD business operations. Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath left at the end of 2013 for a position at Deloitte Consulting LLP, while Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer David Wennergren retired in July 2013 and is now with CACI International. 

Brubaker, however, praised the leadership of acting DCMO Kevin Scheid, and told his colleagues that the decision to leave "is made somewhat easier knowing that there are incredibly talented, capable and dedicated teammates who serve within the DCMO that will continue to drive new levels of efficiency and effectiveness."

"It is certainly an exciting time to be working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and DCMO," Brubaker wrote. "I would not be leaving if there wasn't an exceptionally suitable and exciting position to drive a level of transformation from the outside."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 25, 2014 at 7:16 AM4 comments

TASC taps ‘first federal CIO’

Mark Forman

Mark Forman, the man dubbed “the first federal CIO,” has returned to the defense systems firm TASC as vice president for IT services and cloud initiatives, the company announced April 23. Forman was administrator for e-government and IT in the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2003.  

Forman "will help TASC expand the offerings we provide to civil-agency customers, especially in cloud computing and for complex IT systems," Bruce Phillips, a senior vice president at TASC, said in a statement.

Forman, co-founder and president of Government Transaction Services, was a partner at KPMG and a principal for IBM's Global eBusinesss Strategy, according to his TASC bio. He also has legislative-branch experience as a senior staffer on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee (now called the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee), and on the Joint Economic Committee.

His first stint with TASC was from 1985 to 1989, where he did cost and operational effectiveness analysis in support of the Army and other DOD organizations, according to a LinkedIn bio.

Forman has been a frequent commentator on federal IT policy since leaving OMB. At a software industry event last November, he said the Obama administration’s plan for “made a mockery of modular procurement,” and that the vendor management process was broken.

He was a 2002 winner of the Eagle award, presented annually by FCW for outstanding contributions to federal information technology.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM0 comments

Why government social media is different

Social Media Tree

The federal government needs to do a better job of explaining its unique position in the constellation of social media users, according to Justin Herman, who leads government-wide social media programs at the General Services Administration.

Privacy law, spending restrictions, and different performance metrics separate the government's public services mission from the private sector's public relations goals, Herman wrote in an April 22 post on the GSA's DigitalGov blog.

"Social media for government is rightfully different from social media for the private sector and amid changing technologies we must better understand these differences in order for agencies, companies and citizens to share in the full opportunities and benefits," he wrote.

Federal social media accounts can't target influential users to make messages go viral because of Privacy Act restrictions. They can't buy followers. They typically don't throw money at promoting posts through advertising.

Herman cited Coast Guard social media chief Christopher Lagan, who said the federal government offers a "deeper connection" on social media than a typical brand. "Our audience isn't made up of customers but of fellow Americans. We're not trying to sell them anything, we're trying to give them ownership of and a stake in the process."

Herman announced three new social media initiatives that will launch over the next three months, designed to improve federal users' visibility, reach, and effectiveness on social platforms.

A Federal Social Media Policy Development toolkit will be published on software code sharing repository Github. The second edition of the Social Media Accessibility toolkit, which helps social media managers make content more accessible to people with disabilities, will go live. Finally, GSA will release new guidance on how to measure the performance of government social media accounts.

GSA is also looking for two current federal employees to devote 20 percent of their work time under the open opportunities program to help report on federal social media trends.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:04 AM1 comments

Borras lands at consulting firm

Rafael Borras

Rafael Borras, former undersecretary for management at the Department of Homeland Security, has joined global management consultancy A.T. Kearney as a senior adviser, according to a company statement released on April 23.

In his new role, Borras will identify commercial best practices in organizational transformation, IT, acquisition and financial management that can be applied in the public sector.

Before his departure from DHS in February, Borras had been at the agency since his 2010 appointment by President Barack Obama. From September to December 2013, Borras served as acting deputy secretary.

As DHS' designated chief management officer, he oversaw management of the department's nearly $60 billion budget, and as chief acquisition officer, he administered approximately $19 billion in annual procurements.

"I look forward to helping A.T. Kearney deliver the best commercial practices to the public sector and enabling governments everywhere to deliver services in the most efficient and sustainable way to the benefit of their citizens," Borras said in the statement.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Apr 23, 2014 at 12:35 PM0 comments

Gen. Franz takes over INSCOM

Maj. Gen. George J. Franz III

The U.S. Army on April 17 named Maj. Gen. George J. Franz III commanding general of its Intelligence and Security Command in Ft. Belvoir, Va. INSCOM is a main Army command center for information security and has personnel in 180 locations worldwide.

Franz was previously commander of the Cyber National Mission Force at U.S. Cyber Command in Ft. Meade, where his work earned him a 2014 Federal 100 award. At U.S. Cyber Command, Franz was responsible for developing, training and structuring the nation’s cyber mission forces. He also produced the first cyber forces concept of operations.

Franz served in the Gulf War and the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a bio on the AFCEA website.

INSCOM did not respond to questions on the appointment by the time of publication.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 18, 2014 at 8:06 AM0 comments

McClure leaving GSA

David McClure at the 2014 Federal 100 gala

David McClure, shown here at the 2014 Federal 100 gala, confirmed to FCW on April 17 that he will retire from the General Services Administration at the end of May.

Dave McClure, associate administrator of the GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Communications confirmed he is retiring from the agency.

In an April 17 email to FCW, McClure declined to discuss his future plans in detail while still on the job, but said he is leaving GSA at the end of May.

News of the April 16 internal email in which McClure announced his retirement plans was first reported by NextGov. GSA did not respond to questions about who might fill the position, but GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said McClure "has played an invaluable role in making this agency a leader in digital innovation.... He has left a strong foundation that everyone at GSA, and the entire federal government, can build on in the years to come."

Rumors of McClure's possible departure have circulated for months as he approached retirement eligibility, but multiple sources said McClure may had taken some time to help set up a transition plan.

His tenure at GSA is distinguished, including sweeping programs aimed at implementing and managing the federal government's migration away from traditional, dedicated IT operations to cloud environments, as well as innovation in IT contracting methods. He has been a leading advocate for the Obama administration’s cloud-first policy as a way to save money and enhance efficiency across government.

McClure also shepherded one of the government's key cloud initiatives, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), through the interagency review and approval process to its fruition. FedRAMP has gone from an idea to becoming the "law of the land" for a standardized approach to assessing and authorizing cloud products and services, said one source.

McClure's efforts to improve federal IT and drive down inefficiencies across government have earned him FCW's Federal 100 award four times -- in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2012. In 2012, he won FCW's government Eagle award for his leadership on GSA’s infrastructure-as-a-service contract, which allows agencies to buy IT services as needed rather than purchasing and maintaining more hardware. He also received AFFIRM's 2010 Governmentwide IT Leadership Award.

Before joining GSA, McClure had been managing vice president for Gartner Inc.’s government research team. He served on the Obama-Biden transformation, innovation and government reform transition team, which examined federal agency IT plans and status for the incoming administration. McClure has also served as vice president for e-government and technology at the Council for Excellence in Government.

Before joining Gartner, McClure had an 18-year career at the Government Accountability Office, where he reviewed major systems development and IT management capabilities in almost all major Cabinet departments and agencies. He also served as ex-officio member of the Federal Chief Information Officer Council from its start in 1996 through 2001.

Note: This story was updated on April 17 to add comments from GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Apr 17, 2014 at 10:10 AM1 comments

DISA's Bennett shifts to private sector

revolving door

Bruce Bennett, a former deputy chief technology officer for the Defense Information Systems Agency, is now an executive consultant at Suss Consulting, the firm announced April 15.

Bennett was also DISA's program executive officer for satellite communications and chief engineer for the Defense Information Systems Network, the agency's global telecom network.

Bennett's value as a federal IT consultant lies in his "breadth of expertise in terrestrial and satellite networks along with his depth of experience in designing, developing and implementing state-of-the-art engineering solutions," Suss Consulting President Warren Suss said in a statement.

At DISA, Bennett was in charge of the engineering and resourcing of terrestrial and commercial satellite communications, among other duties, the Suss Consulting bio said. He pushed programs toward "Everything over Internet Protocol," and called for culture change at DOD to drive technology adoption.

Barnett has also "held numerous leadership positions with the U.S. Army working in signals intelligence development," his new employer added.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 16, 2014 at 8:00 AM1 comments

In-flight Wi-Fi for Con Air

ConAir Wi-Fi

Most of the guests on flights run by the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System might not care, but in-flight Wi-Fi is coming to the U.S. Marshal's airline. The Department of Justice is seeking sources to install Wi-Fi and hard-wired Internet service on two Boeing 737-400 aircraft used for prisoner transportation. The aircraft are based at JPAT's Oklahoma City headquarters.

The service, as the statement of work makes clear, is designed for the pilots and security personnel, not for the convenience of the passengers. The specs call for an air-to-ground network with broadband speeds of 2.5 to 3 megabits per second, the ability to send 10MB email attachments, secure VPN access, and remote desktop support for Apple iPad and Windows PCs. The requirements also include AC power outlets in the cockpit and the cabin for device charging, and a small format printer.

As viewers of the TV show "Justified" are aware, U.S. Marshals value economy and dispatch. They don't want the installation of the two systems to get in the way of their flight schedules. The announcement specifies that the "minimization of aircraft downtime during the normal business week will be a major factor in selecting a vendor," and the ability to work on weekends or federal holidays will be a plus.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM0 comments

Johnson joins CAP as a senior fellow

Clay Johnson

Clay Johnson has no shortage of either fans or critics in the federal IT community -- and now both camps are likely to be hearing a lot more from him.

The Center for American Progress announced on April 15 that Johnson -- the outspoken technologist, author and former presidential innovation fellow -- will be coming aboard as a senior fellow. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of the Department of Better Technology, which focuses on developing government IT solutions. Johnson said the fellowship "has no implications" for DBT.

"A commercial social venture isn't the right home for a lot of the policy and reform work that I do with the federal government," Johnson said, according to CAP. "The Center for American Progress is."

Johnson has been critical of government IT and federal contracting in the wake of the launch, saying that the federal procurement system is broken. In his role as a 2012 presidential innovation fellow, he worked on the RFP-EZ procurement system, which continues to be used for certain acquisition efforts. In 2010, Johnson was a Federal 100 Winner for his work as director of Sunlight Labs.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson's work at CAP will focus on issues concerning government technology, including procurement reform and open government data. His fellowship will be based in Atlanta.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Apr 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM0 comments

Carey heading to CSC

Robert Carey

Robert Carey, who served as principal deputy CIO at the Defense Department for three-and-a-half years before stepping down last month, revealed at his April 11 retirement party that he will join CSC as vice president of public sector, cyber.

Before becoming DOD's principal deputy CIO in October 2010, Carey spent four years as CIO of the Department of the Navy.

A veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars, Carey was also a 2013 Federal 100 winner and was named Defense Executive of the Year for 2009 by GCN, FCW's sister publication.

CSC officials declined to comment on Carey's role at the Falls Church, Va.-based firm.

CSC ranked 15th on the Federal Procurement Data System's list of the top 100 government contractors in 2013; the company earned $3.47 billion under federal contracts last year. One of the products in Carey's charge could be an offering CSC released earlier this month called AppSEC on Demand, which tests the security of software and helps clients build security into the development process.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Apr 14, 2014 at 12:11 PM2 comments

NOAA, NASA finalists in web design competition

Don't be a cog in the machine

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are among the five nominees for the 2014 Webby Awards for government websites. NOAA was nominated for, while NASA was nominated for its main site.

NOAA’s site includes news about weather trends, interactive maps and learning resources like a “Teaching Climate Literacy Webinar.

“Our goals are to promote public understanding of climate science and climate-related events, to make our data products and services easy to access and use, to provide climate-related support to the private sector and the Nation’s economy, and to serve people making climate-related decisions with tools and resources that help them answer specific questions,” its site said.

The awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

NASA won the 2012 award for best government site and was a 2013 honoree.

Three non-federal sites are also nominated in the government category: New York City’s redesigned; a site promoting adoption in Wales; and Sweden’s official site.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Apr 10, 2014 at 6:40 AM0 comments

Better Government Competition seeks agency tech ideas

compass innovation

Got an idea for using technology to make government run better? It could win you $10,000 from the 2014 Better Government Competition.

The Better Government Competition is a project of the Pioneer Institute, a non-profit and non-partisan research organization focused on improving public policy in Massachusetts. Ideas and innovations from the federal level are welcome, however, particularly when focused on information-sharing, fraud detection, reducing energy costs or streamlining agencies' reporting, licensing and regulatory processes. The focus of this year's contest is "leveraging technology to transform the public sector."

The deadline is fast approaching; submissions in the form of short "idea papers" must be received by April 16. And determining what your ethics officer thinks of such a contest is up to you!

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 09, 2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments

Contreras-Sweet sworn in at SBA

Maria Contreras-Sweet being sworn is as administrator of the Small Business Administration on April 7, 2014

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both took part in the April 7 swearing-in ceremony for Maria Contreras-Sweet as administrator of the Small Business Administration. She was nominated for the post in January and confirmed by the Senate on March 27.

"I nominated Maria because she knows firsthand the challenges that small businesses go through," Obama said at the ceremony, "and she has a proven track record of helping them succeed."

Contreras-Sweet, a first-generation Mexican-American, founder of ProAmérica Bank and a former California state official, said her mission "is to make the SBA an agency that's as innovative as the small businesses that we serve."

Posted by FCW Staff on Apr 08, 2014 at 3:32 PM0 comments

Air Force names new head of contracting

Gen. Casey Blake

Brig. Gen. Casey Blake was named on April 4 to replace Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello as the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for contracting. Masiello has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be director of the Defense Contract Management Agency.

A 30-year Air Force veteran, Blake currently serves as commander of the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, which is based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In that role, he has directed strategic sourcing efforts for the Air Force and overseen $3.9 billion in annual obligations.

Note: This article was updated on April 9 to correct the date on which Blake was named to his new post.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 04, 2014 at 2:14 PM0 comments

Masiello named to head Defense Contract Management Agency

Wendy Masiello

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced April 1 that President Barack Obama has nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello to be director of the Defense Contract Management Agency. Charlie Williams was director of DCMA until late 2013; Deputy Director James Russell has been running the agency on an acting basis since then.

If confirmed by the Senate, Masiello would also be promoted to lieutenant general. 

Masiello currently serves as the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for contracting -- a role in which she has pushed the Air Force to be an early adopter of the General Services Administration's OASIS contracting vehicle, and warned publicly of the risks posed by agencies' shortage of experienced contracting personnel. In 2011, she won a Federal 100 award for her work as the Air Force's program executive officer for combat and mission support.

No replacement has yet been named for Masiello's current job of Air Force deputy assistant secretary for contracting.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 02, 2014 at 10:34 AM0 comments

Mazer steps down as Interior CIO

Interior Department CIO Bernard Mazer is retiring after more than 25 years in government. 

Federal News Radio, which first reported the news, quoted an internal agency email as saying Mazer would stay until July to assist with the transition, but would step out of his CIO role immediately. 

Mazer won a 2014 Federal 100 award for his leadership in consolidating Interior’s IT operations, and for driving the department's Foundation Cloud Hosting Services contract.

He will be replaced on an interim basis by Sylvia Burns, Interior's acting associate deputy CIO for service planning and management.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Mar 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM2 comments

Rochford to run telecom technology lab

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has named Kent Rochford as its director of a new wireless telecommunications lab it runs with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The Communication Technology Laboratory (CTL) is based at NIST's Boulder, Colo., research facilities and seeks to advance understanding of spectrum use with the goal of promoting better spectrum-sharing approaches. NIST and NTIA announced formation of the lab last year, and NIST said on March 26 that its appointment of Rochford was effective March 24.

The center will be jointly managed by Rochford and the director of NTIA's Institute for Telecommunication Sciences.

According to NIST's announcement, Rochford had been senior director of Sharp Labs of America. He is also a NIST veteran, having previously served as chief of NIST's Optoelectronics Division, director of its Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory, and director of operations at the agency's Boulder Laboratories.

CTL could provide a way to beat the growing national wireless spectrum crunch, said Willie May, associate director of laboratory programs at NIST, during a cloud mobility conference at the agency's headquarters on March 25.

CTL is the seventh of NIST's major research units. It aims to enhance agencies' effectiveness in coordinating research, standards development and testing functions in advanced communications technologies. According to agency statements, CTL will also promote interdisciplinary research and be a focal point for industry's and government's testing, validation and conformity assessments for those technologies.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM0 comments

Pentagon Deputy CIO Carey retires

Robert Carey

Robert J. Carey, principal deputy chief information officer at the Department of Defense, announced his retirement in an email to colleagues on March 26.

His last day on the job will be March 28.

Carey has been in his current position since October 2010. Before that, he was CIO of the Department of the Navy, where he succeeded Dave Wennergren in 2006.

Carey's federal career spans more than three decades. His service began with the Army at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1982. He switched to the Department of the Navy in 1985, where he worked in a variety of engineering and leadership positions. He joined the staff of the Navy CIO in February 2000 and was promoted to deputy CIO in December 2002.

Carey was a 2013 Federal 100 winner and was named Defense Executive of the Year for 2009 by GCN, FCW’s sister publication.

In winning the Federal 100 award, he was cited for his work as co-chairman of the CIO Council's Information Security and Identity Management Committee, where he helped guide development of a mobile computing security requirement for unclassified information in just four months.

Carey noted in his email that he also served in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps Officer for 25 years, and was mobilized for both the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

Posted by John Bicknell on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM0 comments

Reeder recognized for role in launching Fed 100

Franklin Reeder

FCW's 25th Federal 100 gala included one additional award that was long overdue. Frank Reeder, a 25-year Office of Management and Budget official who has also shaped federal IT from the legislative branch and various non-governmental organizations, was honored for his role in creating the Fed 100. 

Reeder, who in the late 1980s was head of the information policy branch at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, approached FCW’s editors about finding a way to shine a light on the good things happening in government. The result -- with its community-driven nomination process, blue-ribbon judging panel, and stand-up comic instead of drawn-out speeches -- was the Federal 100 awards that continue to this day.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Mar 25, 2014 at 12:09 PM1 comments

Chief acquisition officer leaves GSA for White House

Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

GSA Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung will move to the White House to head up the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, sources with  knowledge of the move told FCW.

Rung will replace Joe Jordan as administrator at OFPP. Jordan stepped down in January to accept a position as president of public sector at FedBid, a privately held company that offers a reverse-auction marketplace in which companies compete for government business by bidding down their prices

At GSA, Rung has had a dual role as chief acquisition officer and associate administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy.

A replacement hasn't been named yet, according to sources.  

She was named associate administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy at GSA in June 2013 and had been the agency's chief acquisition officer since May 2012.

When Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced the appointment of Rung to the associate administrator position, he said "Anne has been a vital part of our agency since April of last year, serving as our chief acquisition officer and a senior adviser to me on a number of issues. She brings extensive experience in public service at both the state and federal level."

Before joining GSA, Rung had served as senior director of administration at the Department of Commerce, leading and implementing several management initiatives, including acquisition reform. She won FCW's Federal 100 award in 2012 for some of her work at Commerce.

Before that, she served as deputy secretary for administration and procurement for the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, leading four state-wide operations with 77,000 employees and a $4 billion procurement program.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM1 comments

GSA's cloud computing program manager retiring

revolving door

FCW has learned that Katie Lewin, program manager for cloud computing at the General Services Administration, is retiring.

Multiple sources told FCW that Lewin accepted a position at Falls Church, Va.-based CSC, an IT services and solutions company. The company refused to comment.

Lewin is known for her role as the driving force behind the launch of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), the government's standardized approach to cloud computing. Her efforts helped federal agencies efficiently develop cloud computing capabilities, carrying out the federal cloud initiative in four key areas: the website, E-mail in the Cloud, Security as a Service and Data Center Consolidation. Much of this work came at a time when cloud computing was in its infancy in government.

Well-known in the federal IT community, Lewin worked to establish collaboration among government and industry stakeholders, addressing security issues, standards and operational issues.

"GSA will miss Katie Lewin's strong leadership and experience from a diverse career working on important government technology initiatives," said Dave McClure, associate administrator for GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. "She has had a wonderful government career in the technology area across four agencies. Her capstone accomplishment without question was the creation and launch of FedRAMP, which is becoming a model of cross-government collaboration in the technology community."

For her efforts, including providing administrative support to former GSA CIO Casey Coleman, Lewin received a Federal 100 award in 2010. This work occurred during her second stint at GSA; she had previously worked on GSA's delegation of procurement authority program. She also held jobs at the Office of Management and Budget, the Library of Congress and the Internal Revenue Service.

Outside of government, Lewin has held various IT-related consulting positions at Lockheed Martin and SRA International, where she worked with the U.S. Mint, IRS and Treasury Department.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Mar 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM0 comments

DHS cyber framework team named

Phyllis Schneck

Phyllis Schneck will lead a new team at DHS dedicated to implementing the cybersecurity framework.

The Department of Homeland Security formally announced the leadership team in the National Protection and Programs Directorate's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications that will help implement the cybersecurity framework for critical infrastructure systems unveiled by the White House in February.

A blog post on the agency's website the evening of March 12 said the new team, drawn from top White House and DHS cybersecurity managers, will work under the direction of Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Phyllis Schneck.

According to the joint post by Schneck and NPPD Deputy Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding, Andy Ozment will join the team as assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications. Ozment had previously been director of compliance and technology under the chief information security officer at DHS, and he returns to the department after working as senior director for cybersecurity at the White House since 2012.

The post said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory Touhill will serve as deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity operations and programs.

Bobbie Stempfley will step into a new role as deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity strategy and emergency communications. She had served as acting assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary of cybersecurity and communications.

While at the White House, Ozment worked for Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel and led the development and implementation of Executive Order 13636 on improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity. That order resulted in the development of the Cybersecurity Framework and the establishment of the voluntary Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community program.

Touhill will focus on the development and implementation of operational programs such as the continuous diagnostics and mitigation program and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which are aimed at protecting government networks and critical infrastructure systems.

Stempfley will oversee emergency communications, develop and implement NPPD's strategy and policy efforts, and focus on building partnerships with the public and private sectors and the general public.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 13, 2014 at 12:16 PM0 comments

FEMA's new CISO comes aboard

Donna Bennett, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's new chief information security officer, started her job on March 10.

Bennett reports to FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner and will serve as the division chief for the Office of Information Assurance, according to a FEMA staff announcement.

In accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act and subordinate regulations, Bennett is responsible for all aspects of the agency's information security program, FEMA said.

Bennett had been the National Defense University's senior information assurance officer, which gave her responsibility for NDU's information systems in Washington, D.C., and at campuses in Norfolk, Va., and Fort Bragg, N.C.

Gardner said Bennett has held several high-level positions at the Defense Department, including a stint as information assurance portfolio manager for European Command and Africa Command.

Bennett earned a bachelor's degree in computer information systems from Saint Leo University and a master of science degree in information assurance from Norwich University. She is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Service Development Seminar. While on active duty in the Navy, Bennett was named Sailor of the Year at Naval Amphibious Base, according to the FEMA announcement.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM0 comments

Professional Services Council launches tech policy group

Anne Altman

Anne Altman, IBM's general manager for federal government and industries, will oversee the executive advisory board for the Professional Services Council's new technology policy council.

An IBM executive will chair the Professional Services Council's new technology policy council.

Anne Altman, IBM's general manager for federal government and industries, will oversee the executive advisory board for the group.

Other members of the panel are Pat Finn, senior vice president of Cisco's U.S. Public Sector Organization; Wes Anderson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Services at Microsoft; George Newstrom, president of Dell Services Federal Government; Randy Fuerst, president and chief operating officer of Oceus Networks; and Robin Lineberger, head of Deloitte's Aerospace and Defense Practice.

More members are expected to be named soon, and a senior executive will be named to the PSC staff to support the board's work.

The technology policy council "represents a recognition of the convergence taking place between the technology and professional services sectors and the many issues associated with that convergence," PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway said in a prepared statement. "Today, the lines that traditionally separated the two have been blurred almost to extinction."

PSC, which represents more than 370 member companies, has recently been involved in advocating for the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, as well as the Federal Data Consolidation Act of 2013.

"The move to an 'as a service' business model, or what others refer to as 'consumption-based buying', is changing the face of the government marketplace," Soloway said. "We have been planning for more than six months to adjust and modify our operating model to reflect those changes. With the addition of PSC's technology policy council, we are beginning that restructuring."

Posted by Reid Davenport on Mar 11, 2014 at 9:38 AM0 comments

Verizon exec joins TechAmerica board

Verizon's Sonya Cork

Sonya Cork, vice president of public sector markets for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, has joined the TechAmerica Public Sector Board of Directors.

Cork, a 26-year communications and IT solutions veteran in civilian and defense agencies, will provide significant insight to the board as it guides the trade association’s technology advocacy on important issues to the federal and state contracting communities.

She currently oversees business development and sales activities for defense and national security accounts for Verizon.

“Sonya brings an extensive background in the world of government contracting that will help inform the policy positions we take on behalf of our membership,” said Shawn Osborne, president and CEO of TechAmerica.

In a press statement, Cork said cloud, mobility and cybersecurity are driving change in the business of government. Procurement reform too, she said, will play a large role in how quickly advanced technologies are put to use by government.

“As a leading advocate for the information and communications technology industry, TechAmerica has taken a leadership role in promoting the adoption of advanced technologies. By identifying potential supply chain and procurement reforms that will help pave the way for broader use, the power of technology can be unlocked to enable new and more efficient ways of delivering government services,” Cork said.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Mar 06, 2014 at 4:50 AM1 comments

ACT-IAC taps executive partners

mentor and student

The American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council announced its 32 government and private sector employees who will pair up in preparation for future roles in senior executive service and corporate executive officer positions.

The 2014 Partners Program includes 16 government employees and 16 industry counterparts who were nominated by their organizations and chosen by a panel made up of government and industry executives.

“ACT-IAC advocates for a closer alignment of the government and private sector in the federal IT community and the Partners Program embodies that mission,” Kay Ely, 2014 Partners Program government chairwoman, said in a prepared statement. “The differentiator of the program is that each government and industry participant is paired with their counterpart to engage in thoughtful dialogue and training throughout the year.”

A quarter of the public sector selections came from the General Services Administration. Among the companies represented are IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton and Cisco.

The government participants are:

Dawn Banks-Waller, EPA
Jennifer Browne, GSA
Danita Byrd, GSA
Maria Filios, GSA
Dave Heimann, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Lee Kelly, EPA
Mark Kieffer, Department of Treasury
Benjamin Kim, Executive Office of the President/Office of Administration
Michael Palmer, DHS
Lori Parker, NASA
Hemanth Setty, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Mary Ann Wangemann, University of Virginia
Allison Willcox, USDA
Barbara Whitelaw, DHS
Victor Winnard, USDA
Judith Zawatsky, GSA

The industry participants are:

Jeffrey Bohling, General Dynamics Information Technology
Janet Clement, ASI Government
Rena Fagel, CenturyLink
Will Fortier, E3 Federal Solutions
Simon Godwin, Acentia
Stephen Goehler, Information Innovators Inc.
Christopher Hegedus, Pragmatics Inc.
Adesh Jain, Avaya Government Solutions
James Karlson, Unisys Federal
Kathryn Kienast, Booz Allen Hamilton
David McOmber, IBM
Brian Ross, Harris Corporation
Brian Sichi, Capgemini Government Solutions
Shannon Vanlandingham, Cisco Systems
Jennifer Yang, Battle Resource Management Inc.
Brian Young, HP Enterprise Services

Posted by Reid Davenport on Mar 04, 2014 at 7:15 AM0 comments

CIO Council revives Workforce Committee

diagram of work team

The Executive Committee of the CIO Council has relaunched a panel intended to address challenges in creating and maintaining an effective federal IT workforce.

The CIO Council’s Workforce Committee will focus on areas such as recruiting, retaining and training IT staff. 

A lack of qualified personnel and setbacks that have burdened the federal workforce across the board, such as sequestration, are prominent issues for government IT. A recent online poll showed that half of the federal workforce is considering a job outside the government.

“The Executive Committee of the CIO Council has re-established the Workforce Committee to address the myriad challenges CIOs face in creating an effective and efficient workforce that enables agency mission success,” the group said in a news release. “This committee will focus CIO Council resources on creating the tools and resources necessary for CIOs to create an exemplary IT workforce.”

Department of Transportation CIO Richard McKinney and Nuclear Regulatory Commission CIO Darren Ash will lead the committee and work with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the Office of Personnel Management on workforce-related issues.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Feb 28, 2014 at 9:27 AM0 comments

FedRAMP gets an OnRAMP

FedRAMP logo -- GSA image

You can now track cloud services providers' progress toward complying with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program as easily as you track your online pizza order.

On Feb. 27, MeriTalk unveiled an initial version of its FedRAMP OnRAMP portal, a collaborative effort with the General Services Administration that provides visibility into existing commercial and government secure cloud service offerings.

The portal's release comes four months ahead of the June deadline for CSPs to achieve compliance, a deadline that has many firms chasing the dozen that have already certified a total of 14 solutions.

"They're either in the pipeline or not in the pipeline, and we're working collaboratively with GSA to update this and add new vendors as they come on board," said Steve O'Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk's Cloud Computing Exchange.

O'Keeffe said the portal is akin to a user tracking a delivery order as it makes its way to your home. If the pizza isn't at your doorstep yet, at least you know how far along it is.

"There are a lot of companies saying they're in the FedRAMP process, but there weren't any ways to actually check," O'Keeffe said.

FedRAMP OnRAMP also promises to provide a unique glimpse into return-on-investment figures CSPs realize through achieving compliance. Using data from GSA and cost numbers from five FedRAMP-compliant CSPs, MeriTalk tallies the mean cost to perform a FedRAMP cloud security certificate at $250,000 – one large provider reported spending $5 million to achieve compliance. The portal uses similar data from six CSPs to calculate government-wide savings through FedRAMP of $52.5 million to date. A fully functional version is expected in mid-March.

"There has been a lot of talk about the value of cloud in the government," said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, which oversees federal IT and procurement policy. "FedRAMP OnRAMP provides tangible metrics and critical insight on a program that is critical to accelerating the modernization of government through the adoption of cloud computing. I commend GSA on the progress it has made so far in implementing FedRAMP and look forward to seeing the resulting savings grow over time."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:49 PM0 comments

Szykman to leave Commerce

revolving door

Commerce Department CIO Simon Szykman plans to leave government later this spring.  A senior Commerce official told FCW that Szykman notified his team and component-agency CIOs of his plans on Feb. 20.

Szykman gave his colleagues no firm departure date, and did not specify what his future plans involve beyond shifting to the private sector. 

Posted by FCW Staff on Feb 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM0 comments

Navy honors Cieslak, others for IT excellence

Navy logo

Randall Cieslak, CIO for U.S. Pacific Command, was among the five award winners in the federal information community announced Feb. 20 by the Navy. Cieslak was named the Navy's Cyberspace/IT Person of the Year for his consolidation of USPACOM networks.

"The strategy he proposed to collapse multiple networks into a shared infrastructure and enhance security with the implementation of Internet Protocol v6 is a model of modernization and transformation activity to be emulated by others," according to a news release from the Navy CIO.

Chris Ferguson, lead applications developer for the Navy's Assistant for Administration, was one of the two Cyberspace/IT Rising Star winners for his role in establishing a DON/AA public portal. The other was Anthony Winns, the unit's customer support lead.

The other winners were: Mark Johnson, director for electromagnetic environmental effects/spectrum policy and programs in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, who claimed the John J. Lussier Electromagnetic Spectrum Leadership Award; and Rebecca Chhim, computer scientist and lead information assurance advisor for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport's Undersea Warfare Combat System Department. The Department of the Navy CIO website was recognized for outstanding achievement in web development by the Web Marketing Association.

Seven of FCW's 2014 Fed 100 winners came from the Navy, including Cieslak.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:22 AM0 comments

New leader named at Navy Cyber Command

Jan E. Tighe, U.S. Navy Fleet Cyber Command

Rear Adm. Jan Tighe currently serves as the Navy Cyber Command's deputy commander.

With Vice Adm. Mike Rogers named to head up the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet received word Feb. 14 of who, if confirmed, will take his place at the helm.

Navy Rear Adm. Jan Tighe, currently serving as the Navy Cyber Command's deputy commander, was nominated by President Barack Obama to step up into the commander role. She faces Senate confirmation before formally assuming leadership.

Tighe would be the first woman to command both Fleet Cyber Command and the 10th Fleet, the latter being the numbered fleet for the Navy's cyber component.

Fleet Cyber Command was established in January 2010 as the service's subcomponent to U.S. Cyber Command. The 10th Fleet originally was launched in May 1943 for anti-submarine warfare in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, targeting German U-boats. After being deactivated at the end of the war, it was reactivated in 2010 with the launch of Fleet Cyber Command.

Tighe has served as deputy commander since November 2013. Prior to that, she was the director of decision superiority on the Chief of Naval Operations staff in July 2011, after serving as the deputy director of Operations for U.S. Cyber Command. From November 2012 until October 2013, she additionally served as interim president of the Naval Postgraduate School, according to her Navy bio.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM0 comments

A little help, please?

John Klossner for FCW

Posted by John Klossner on Feb 14, 2014 at 8:16 AM0 comments

Air Force headquarters transitions to enterprise email


The Air Force's headquarters offices, mostly based in the national capital region, has completed migration to the Defense Department's enterprise email system, according to a DOD release.

Roughly 7,800 unclassified email accounts, plus an additional 1,300 mobile devices, transitioned from Air Force-managed e-mail accounts to enterprise e-mail over the course of 60 days. DOD's enterprise-mail program is led by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The Air Force's move follows the Army's migration to the program, which was completed in August 2013. It remains to be determined what or when other components of the Air Force will follow headquarters into enterprise e-mail, but the initial transition marks the first since DOD CIO Teri Takai issued a mandate that all of the military must move to enterprise email by the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

The memo detailing the mandate, which went out last September, directed all DOD agencies to have migration plans in place and inventories of classified and unclassified accounts ready by Jan. 3.

The department-wide move to enterprise email is part of broader DOD plans for its Joint Information Environment.

"DOD enterprise email is a core service of the Joint Information Environment," Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla said in a DISA release. "As the Air Force adopts a [DISA]-managed enterprise capability, we better align with joint warfighter needs and can apply greater focus on our core mission areas, rather than operating and maintaining an email infrastructure."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Feb 06, 2014 at 2:45 PM0 comments

Former Army CIO heads to Booz Allen Hamilton

Susan Lawrence

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, who retired in October 2013 as Army CIO, started work on Feb. 3 as a senior vice president at defense contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, according to the company.

Lawrence will help lead Booz Allen's Defense Market Group, where her experience with Defense Department enterprise IT efforts will be put to work in the company's initiatives in IT; cybersecurity; command, control, communications and computers; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and emerging defense technologies.

Prior to her role as Army CIO, Lawrence served as commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

At the Pentagon, Lawrence has been succeeded by the newly promoted Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, who Army officials note is the first African American to serve as CIO.

"The CIO/G-6 is even more important today as the Army stands up a cyber force and establishes the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in a ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, according to an Army release.

Ferrell previously commanded the Army Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Feb 05, 2014 at 12:19 PM5 comments

Childs retires after 45 years of government service

Robert D. Childs, who has served as the dean of faculty and chancellor of the National Defense University iCollege for more than 20 years, retired at the end of January. Under his tenure, the college grew from an institution focused on information resources management into a 21st century organization to educate the next generation of leaders in the realities of digital government.

In 2010, the Department of Education approved the college's program for a government information leader master of science degree. Childs expanded the courses to include cyber awareness and defense and the programs to include international students.

Childs is a five-time winner of the Federal 100 award and was the GCN Hall of Fame winner for 2013. CACI Vice President David Wennegren, who worked closely with Childs in several executive capacities at the Department of Defense, told GCN that "Bob was has always been a step ahead, with a new course offering, a new approach, or a new program ready to be deployed."

Childs, who also served in the Air Force and retired as a colonel, has formed a company called iCLEAR to provide cyber leadership education to global organizations and governments.

Posted by Anne Armstrong on Feb 05, 2014 at 8:44 AM0 comments

Feb. 7 last day on the job for Borras

Rafael Borras

Homeland Security Undersecretary of Management Rafael Borras' last day at the department will be Feb. 7.

In an internal DHS email dated Feb. 4 obtained by FCW, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Borras will depart Friday, capping four years of service in various leadership positions. Deputy Undersecretary Chris Cummiskey will serve as acting undersecretary for management beginning Feb.10, Johnson said.

Government and industry sources contacted by FCW the week of Jan. 27 said Borras would step down the week of Feb. 3 to pursue interests in the private sector.

"I want to personally thank Rafael for his incredible service to the Department. He has provided valuable leadership to DHS as both the Under Secretary for Management and as Acting Deputy Secretary," said Johnson's department-wide email.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Feb 04, 2014 at 10:03 AM0 comments

Turnover at top DOD, DHS S&T posts

revolving door

The two top Pentagon positions for policy and budget will soon have new faces as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and longtime Defense Department Comptroller Bob Hale both step down. The news comes amid a number of other staffing changes at DOD.

Miller announced his resignation in December, and Hale's announcement comes as President Barack Obama on Jan. 30 nominated Mike McCord, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense, to succeed Hale.

McCord's nomination was announced alongside a number of other high-level positions.

Christine Wormuth has been nominated replace Miller, the latest in a recent series of women to ascend to the Pentagon's highest ranks. Christine Fox was appointed acting deputy secretary in December, the same month Deborah Lee James was confirmed as Air Force secretary. In the Jan. 30 announcement, Obama also nominated Miranda Ballentine, currently working in the private sector, to be assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.

Wormuth has been at DOD since 2009; since 2012 she has served as deputy undersecretary of Defense for strategy, plans and forces.

Obama also nominated a deputy for Wormuth. Brian McKeon, currently multi-hatted at the White House as deputy assistant to the president, executive secretary of the National Security Council and chief of staff for the National Security Staff, has been nominated as principle deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.

In another Pentagon departure, Reginald Brothers, deputy assistant secretary for research, will head to the Homeland Security Department as undersecretary for science and technology, if confirmed by the Senate.


Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:33 AM1 comments

Rockefeller blasts private-sector metadata storage plan

Jay Rockefeller

Sen. Jay Rockefeller says he'd rather see NSA bulk data remain in the government's hands than be entrusted to the private sector.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller took aim at an Obama administration proposal to move storage of bulk telephonic metadata from government systems inside the intelligence community to telecommunications companies, saying he did not “believe we can come up with a better alternative.”

"I am concerned any change of our current framework will harm both national security and privacy,” the West Virginia Democrat said at a Jan. 29 hearing of the Intelligence Committee.

Rather than ask questions of four intelligence chiefs gathered for the annual unclassified "threat assessment" hearing, Rockefeller used his time to issue a blistering broadside against the idea of reverting storage of data collected by government under the authority of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to private sector telecommunications companies. Rockefeller, who chairs the Commerce Committee, has long experience overseeing telecom regulators.

"Ultimately the decision rests with Congress. And this senator is absolutely opposed to contracting out this inherently core governmental function," Rockefeller said

Rockefeller noted that there are hundreds of niche telecommunications providers nationwide, not simply a handful of large companies. He warned that private companies are reluctant to take on the job of storing the data, especially if it could potentially be subject to discovery in a civil lawsuit. Private companies don't swear allegiance to the government the way intelligence officers do, he noted. Moreover, he suggested, the government and the private sector lack the technical capacity to make such a system operate effectively.

The telecoms, he said, "do not want to become agents of the government. They do not want to become the government's guardians of vast amounts of intelligence data."

Rockefeller cautioned that the rise of the data brokerage industry and recent data breaches at Target and other retailers heightened his concern that the bulk metadata might leak out from private sector sources. "This is not a foundation for a good partnership," he said.

Rockefeller also gave some idea of the scope of the operations side of querying the metadata collected under the 2001 anti-terrorism law. He indicated that just 22 supervisors and 33 intelligence analysts inside the Intelligence Directorate were authorized to query the database, and do so using anonymized phone numbers, not names or other data. "Their queries are subject to multiple overlapping checks, audits, and inspections," he said.

"The hard fact is that our national security interests do not change just because public opinion on an issue fluctuates," he said.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM1 comments

Werfel officially out of government

Danny Werfel

Back in December, the Internal Revenue Service gave a heads up of now-former OMB Controller Danny Werfel's intentions to leave the White House and the federal government for the private sector.

Werfel's last day of government employment was Dec. 31, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed on Jan. 27 after news reports that Werfel had left.

Werfel was tapped by the White House last May to be acting commissioner at the IRS. According to OMB, Deputy Controller Norman Dong has performed the duties of OMB's controller since Werfel took on the IRS job.

The IRS said in a Dec. 20 statement to reporters after current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's confirmation by the Senate that Werfel would remain at the IRS through Dec. 31 to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. "Following that, Mr. Werfel intends to take some time with his family, while exploring future opportunities outside of government," said the statement.

In his time at OMB, the White House said Werfel took on an expanded role within that agency, leading the coordination of its efforts in the areas of Federal procurement, information technology, and personnel policy and performance management.

Werfel told FCW on Jan. 27 that Koskinen's confirmation gave him "a good opportunity for me to take some brief time off to spend with my family and also to explore new opportunities for the next phase of my career.   In terms of my career, I have not yet decided on what my next steps will be, but hope to do so in the near term."

Werfel, who had been controller at OMB since 2009, was honored in November by FCW's sister publication, GCN, as its Government IT Executive of the Year.

Note: This story was updated on Jan. 27 to add Werfel's statement.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM0 comments claims innovation honor

man with light bulb sign

The General Services Administration's, which uses contests to engage with the public and spark new ideas, is the winner of the Innovations in American Government Award.

The award is presented by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The award was established in 1985, and the center received more than 600 applications last year.

Since GSA launched in 2010, 59 federal agencies have used the site to hold more than 300 contests that have resulted in new apps, software and designs.

"The success of has really been a result of people seeing an opportunity to get outcomes that they might not have been able to realize before," said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "It really revolutionizes the way we go to the marketplace and ask people to help us resolve the issues in government."

"I think one of the interesting innovations about this is that it's a platform, it's not just...a program, and it recognizes that there [are] a lot of good ideas that come from crowdsourcing," said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard. "So I think that the extension of innovation in the citizen response, how can we engage citizens and [solve] problems together, really is the future of public/private partnership."

Posted by Reid Davenport on Jan 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM0 comments

TechAmerica hires state/local VP

Russ Guarna, TechAmerica

TechAmerica has bolstered its public-sector operations, adding Russ Guarna as vice president for public sector/state and local government.

Guarna joins Mike Hettinger, senior vice president for the public sector, as recent additions to TechAmerica's public sector group.

Guarna was formerly deputy director of the statewide technology procurement division in California's Department of Technology.

In that role, Guarna led a team of procurement specialists in the acquisition of large-scale IT integrated solutions and the next generation of telecommunication and public safety communications contracts.

He has also served as deputy director of the California Technology Agency's program and policy management areas, providing oversight of the state's multibillion dollar IT project portfolio.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 22, 2014 at 12:54 PM0 comments

Gates: NSA ‘primary weapon in this conflict’

Robert Gates

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a press tour promoting his new book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," spoke at a Jan. 16 Politico Playbook event in Washington. The hour-long conversation with Politico’s Mike Allen covered a lot of ground, but a few gems on intelligence leaks and cybersecurity emerged during the discussion. 

On stopping leaks: “The president and I were about the only people at the table who weren’t taking notes. At one point, when the president was really angry about leaks, I turned to him and said, ‘Mr. President, would you look around the table? Everybody’s writing! And they’re all going to go back and brief their staffs, and their staff will brief everybody else. If you want to stop leaks, tell everybody to put their damn pencils down. Say there’s one note-taker for the meeting, and he or she is from the National Security Council staff, and no one else is allowed to take notes.’ Uh, that never happened.” 

On the possibility of a “cyber 9/11: “First of all I think a cyberattack of that magnitude from nation-state with whom we are not at war is not very likely. So I think the greatest danger comes from non-government entities – terrorist groups, global organized crime, probably more likely a terrorist group. And some are very sophisticated when it comes to the Internet. So I think that is a very real danger.”

On the state of U.S. cybersecurity: “The problem I see is, I think we have the capability to protect our critical infrastructure, but bureaucratic and political issues have us so wrapped around the axle that we can’t figure out who to give the authority to defend us.

“The reality is – and this was a debate I had in Obama administration – when I first became Defense secretary, I asked the deputy general counsel of the department to get me a memo of what kind of cyberattack would constitute an act of war. When I left four and a half years later, I was still waiting for that memo. 

“I think a lot of people who are really focused on privacy and civil liberties resist the notion of the NSA providing cybersecurity for the United States ...the truth is they are our primary weapon in this conflict.”

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM0 comments

AT&T bolsters public-sector team

Michael Leff, AT&T Government Solutions

AT&T Government Solutions announced Jan. 21 that Michael Leff, formerly a managing director at Accenture, was named a vice president and will lead AGS across federal civilian departments and agencies.

Leff is the third senior executive to join AGS's public sector group in recent months. Former General Services Administration CIO Casey Coleman's first day on the job as client executive vice president was Jan. 21. Former Agriculture Department CIO Chris Smith, another onetime Accenture exec, joined AGS in November as vice president for technology.

"Joining the AT&T Government Solutions team is a tremendous opportunity," Leff said in a press release. "I'm looking forward to combining the strength of AT&T's expansive network and resources with my own experience in assisting civilian agencies to achieve and advance their missions."

Before Leff's tenure at Accenture, he worked for Lockheed Martin for 14 years.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:07 AM0 comments

GSA's Koses moves up

Jeff Koses_GSA

GSA's Jeff Koses

Jeff Koses, director of acquisition operations for the General Supplies and Services portfolio at the General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service, has been named senior procurement executive in the agency's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Koses will start in his new position Jan. 30 and be reporting to Anne Rung, who became associate administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy in August. Rung had been GSA's chief acquisition officer.

Jim Ghiloni, director of the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services Program Management Office, will step in as acting director of acquisitions operations at FAS. Sources familiar with the moves said Ghiloni will keep his OASIS duties as well. GSA's OASIS team has said it expects to award contracts in early 2014.

Koses has served as an official spokesman on Capitol Hill for GSA on topics ranging from the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative to governmentwide acquisition contracts.

"Jeff has the right combination of operational experience and policy background that makes him an excellent agent for further improving federal acquisition," said Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, in a statement.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 17, 2014 at 1:34 PM0 comments

McCormack named vice chair of CIO Council

Along with his new job as chief information officer at DHS, Luke McCormack will also serve as vice chair of the Federal CIO Council.

The DHS's newly installed CIO was appointed to the council position Jan. 8. The move comes only a few weeks after McCormack officially stepped into the DHS CIO job. That position was vacated by Richard Spires last March and held by acting CIO Margie Graves until McCormack came on board in December.

Spires had also been vice chair at the Federal CIO Council while serving as DHS CIO.

Before being tapped in October to fill the DHS CIO slot, McCormack had been CIO and deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management at the Justice Department, a post he had held since February 2012.

This is his second stint at DHS. He had previously served at Customs and Border Protection as acting director of the infrastructure services division from 2004 to 2005, director of architecture and engineering from 2002 to 2003, and director of systems engineering from 1999 to 2002.

"Mr. McCormack has a keen understanding of the Council’s mission," said a Jan. 16 post on's blog. “He has played a leading role in Council activities since March of 2012 when he became DOJ CIO. There, he helped steer the Council’s cybersecurity work by co-chairing the Information Security and Identity Management Committee, and served as Vice-Chair of the Digital Services Advisory Group, which advised the Federal CIO on all aspects of implementation of the Digital Government Strategy."

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 17, 2014 at 5:11 AM0 comments

Issa, Connolly launch Cloud Caucus

US Capitol

Though they are occasionally fierce political rivals, Reps. Darrell Issa and Gerry Connolly see eye to eye on many problems in federal IT acquisitions. The California Republican and the Virginia Democrat are inviting members to join the new bipartisan Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus, "dedicated to fostering awareness and understanding of this critical IT issue."

The announcement came at the Jan 16 Cloud Computing Brainstorm sponsored by MeriTalk.

The two previously teamed up to sponsor the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), a bill to strengthen CIO authorities at agencies and encourage enterprise-wide IT buying practices. FITARA is strongly supportive of cloud transition and would require the CIO Council to establish "government-wide standards for security assessments pertaining to cloud offerings"

A letter inviting lawmakers  to join the caucus said "the versatility and scalability of cloud computing will save taxpayer money and offer policymakers a chance to address the federal government’s dismal record of procuring and using information technology."

The effort appears to be in the same vein as the High Tech Caucus, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), which convenes members around issues such as spectrum redeployment, cybersecurity and tech-workforce needs.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jan 16, 2014 at 12:10 PM2 comments

Klossner's Predictions for 2014

Klossner on 2014

Posted by John Klossner on Jan 15, 2014 at 1:16 PM0 comments

Former DOD official to lead industrial base review

Image of the Pentagon

A recently retired Pentagon policy leader is set to head up a review of the defense industrial base that will aim to help inform budgetary decision making. 

Brett Lambert, who stepped down last August as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy, will spearhead the review for the National Defense Industrial Association, according to the Washington Post.  

NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro said the hope is that companies will be more open with an industry-led group than they might be with the government. The analysis comes as DOD leaders seek ways to implement billions of dollars in cuts and continue with acquisition reform efforts. 

While at the Pentagon, Lambert led efforts to improve communication between DOD and the defense industrial base. He told the Post that the NDIA study will be “a fact-finding mission,” and will evaluate how well current contractors are fulfilling military needs.  

“Not everybody in the industry is going to be joyful about this effort,” Lambert said. “This is not going to be another white paper that says you have to protect the industrial base; it’s going to be a fact-based understanding of what the industrial base looks like.”

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM0 comments

Elizabeth McGrath joins Deloitte

Elizabeth McGrath

Longtime Defense Department official Elizabeth McGrath, who announced her retirement from DOD in November, has joined Deloitte Consulting LLP as a director in its federal practice.

McGrath, who served as the Pentagon’s first deputy chief management officer and as its performance improvement officer, finished her 25-year public sector career focusing on financial management, business operations and enterprise-wide systems efficiencies.

According to Deloitte, McGrath will now serve as an adviser to its federal government and commercial clients with an emphasis on innovation and improving business operations.

“We are delighted that Beth has joined Deloitte," said Janet Foutty, principal, Federal Practice Leader and Federal Consulting national managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP. "Her knowledge, experience and relationships will be instrumental in helping our federal and military clients achieve their mission goals as well as strengthen Deloitte's deep capabilities in the Federal marketplace." 

Among her responsibilities at DOD, McGrath generated the DOD’s Strategic Management Plan, connecting its business operations to its mission, and led the Defense Business Council, the Pentagon’s governance body charged with oversight of business operations.

“Beth brings deep capabilities and experience in business operations from her many years of stellar service at the Department of Defense," said John Powers, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of the Department of Defense sector.  "In her new role with Deloitte she can help our clients improve their business practices, improve efficiencies and enhance business operations from an enterprise-wide perspective."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jan 09, 2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments

Changing of the guard at Army IT commands

Gen. John Morrison

The Army Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., has a new man at the helm: Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison, Jr., who most recently served as commanding general of the 7th Signal Command at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Morrison, who also formerly headed up the Army's LandWarNet/Battle Command and is a 2012 FCW Federal 100 winner, replaces interim commander Brig. Gen. Peter Gallagher. Gallagher stepped in when former commander Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn was named vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency in September.

Morrison is set to be succeeded at Fort Gordon by Brig. Gen. John Baker, currently director of the J-6 at U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 09, 2014 at 4:52 AM0 comments

GSA CIO heads for private sector

revolving door

General Services Administration CIO Casey Coleman is leaving her position at the agency to become a vice president at AT&T Government Solutions.

AGS, a division of AT&T Inc. that serves federal agencies, said Jan. 7 it had named Coleman as client executive vice president. Her first day at her new job will be Jan. 21.

Sonny Hashmi, GSA's deputy CIO, has agreed to serve as acting CIO when Coleman leaves, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said in a statement.

GSA Deputy Administrator Susan Brita will also be leaving the agency, Tangherlini said, and Denise Turner Roth will assume the role of deputy administrator on March 14.

Coleman, who has served as CIO for GSA's Federal Acquisition Service and Federal Technology Service, oversees the GSA's Office of the Chief Information Officer, and manages the agency's $600 million information technology budget.

In her new role at AGS, the company said, Coleman will be responsible for the development of long-term customer relationships and delivery of customized solutions for a key set of agencies in the civilian market.

"Advances in cloud, mobility, big data and security present federal organizations with a new world of opportunities," Coleman said in a statement issued by AGS. "I am thrilled to join AT&T Government Solutions and look forward to helping federal customers achieve their mission in innovative, strategic ways by combining AT&T's impressive solutions portfolio with my many years of experience in the federal IT sector."

Tangherlini called Coleman "an important part of GSA for years," who had helped the agency achieve several "firsts" for the government in mobility, cloud computing, social media and collaboration initiatives that have reduced costs, improved productivity, and improved the agency's ability to deliver services to federal partners. "Her dedication, work ethic, and willingness to help her co-workers have made a difference in every corner of this agency and we wish her well," said Tangherlini.

Rumors of Coleman's departure began circulating shortly after another prominent federal information executive left for the private sector. On Dec. 20, Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Joe Jordan accepted a position as president of public sector at FedBid, a privately held company that offers a reverse-auction marketplace in which companies compete for government business by bidding down their prices.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jan 07, 2014 at 12:38 PM0 comments

What Mandiant-FireEye merger means for the federal market

world map

When network security company FireEye announced Jan. 2 that it acquired cybersecurity firm Mandiant, it signaled a union of two of the biggest names in next-generation IT and network security. But it also raised a lot of questions about what the merger means for the broader cybersecurity market and for the federal government, which routinely contracts both companies to protect and respond to threats on U.S. networks.

Less than a week after the announcement, it's not entirely clear what will happen in the rapidly growing cybersecurity market, but it is a safe bet that competitors will be watching closely and customers – including executives in both the public and private sectors – will be assessing how to move forward with their own security measures.

"In Mandiant's case, there is some risk in moving away from the investigative post-breach response services they're known for. Those services are still needed at government agencies; so the message will be less clear on who you call when you have a breach. For a number of years Mandiant has been at the top of the list," said cybersecurity expert Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest.

While Mandiant is not likely to completely leave its incident-response services behind, it does open the market to other companies to step in, insiders said, particularly as FireEye looks to take the business more global.

"FireEye is also betting that it can capitalize on Mandiant’s relationships with government agencies and federal integrators to grab its share of future cybersecurity spending inside the Beltway,” tech blogger Jon Oltsik noted in a Jan. 3 post. “On the flip side, FireEye hopes to give Mandiant something it never had – an enterprise-savvy sales and marketing team who can translate Mandiant federal security geek-speak into CISO value."

Currently, Mandiant's customer base is largely  composed of U.S. companies. But that's likely to change, despite growing suspicions in the wake of leaks revealing that many major American tech firms complied with National Security Agency surveillance activities.

"The conversation around Microsoft and the NSA, or others who had relationships with them, is only creating more opportunities for companies like us," said David DeWalt, FireEye chairman and CEO, according to the Washington Post.

The NSA scandal also is creating opportunities for network security firms focused on what Stiennon said is currently the biggest driver in the market, and not something typically handled by Mandiant or FireEye: network counter-surveillance.

"Mandiant has never released anything indicating that they know anything about the NSA, and I think that role will fall to the next Mandiant and next FireEye; we'll start seeing influential reports coming from the Kasperskys of the world," Stiennon said. "And U.S. tech companies are going to fall behind the curve unless they start moving today. A lot of vendors have been implicated as having vulnerabilities . . . and all of those vendors have to respond in a positive, strong way. Not with a press release or a statement, but by helping customers determine if they've been breached, which in this case is by the federal government."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 07, 2014 at 1:15 PM0 comments

New Army CIO takes over

Maj Gen Robert Ferrell

Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell reported to duty as the Army's new CIO/G-6 on Jan. 6, after being confirmed by the Senate and promoted from the rank of major general on Dec. 20, a CIO/G-6 spokesperson confirmed.

Ferrell previously served as commanding general of the Army Communications- Electronics Command and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Md. He now is working at the CIO/G-6 offices in the Pentagon.

Ferrell, a native of Anniston, Ala., has served in the Army for 36 years, including nearly two years at CECOM.

He succeeds Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, who retired in October. At CECOM, Chief of Staff Col. Charles Gibson will serve as acting commander until a new commanding general is named, Bob DiMichele, CECOM public affairs officers, told the Baltimore Sun.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 06, 2014 at 12:35 PM0 comments

Longtime GSA IT official calls it a day

John Ray_GSA

John Ray began his federal civilian IT career during the Nixon administration. Now, after 42 years on the job -- more than 39 at the General Services Administration -- he has hung up his government hat. His last day on the job was Dec. 1.

"John's career in GSA policy has provided a model for others," said John Sullivan, data management official at the Office of Government-wide Policy, "demonstrating that one very knowledgeable person can have substantial positive impact in the government." 

Ray dealt with computer and telecommunications procurement at GSA starting in 1974, before being promoted to managing the procurement program for computer services across the government.

In 1989, Ray transferred to the Information Resources Management Service – now the Office of Government-wide Policy -- where he offered recommendations on proposed legislation, reviewed drafts of presidential memos and assessed circulars on information system, cybersecurity and acquisition topics.

"John has been a thought leader in the policies of the IT schedules," Sullivan said. "His watchful eye and deep understandings of various policies has been critical to the useful evolution of the schedules program."

Before joining the civilian workforce, Ray served 17 years with the Air Force, Air Guard and Reserve, including two years on active duty in the mid-1950s.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Dec 30, 2013 at 11:52 PM1 comments

The wrong way to engage

John Klossner for FCW - Employee Engagement

Posted by John Klossner on Dec 23, 2013 at 5:43 AM0 comments

DHS deputy secretary confirmed

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas

The Senate has confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, the No. 2 position at DHS.

The vote was 54-41 along party lines. Republicans who opposed confirmation cited an investigation of Mayorkas by the department's inspector general, part of a broader inquiry into the foreign investor program at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which Mayorkas previously led.

He is alleged to have helped obtain visas for Gulf Coast Funds Management, a firm led by Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mayorkas denies the allegations.

Senate Democrats said the investigation has revealed nothing improper about Mayorkas' actions. The probe is expected to continue until February.

He will step into the job just as the department gets a new secretary, former Pentagon Chief Counsel Jeh Johnson, who was confirmed earlier this week. DHS' Acting Undersecretary for Management Chris Cummiskey told attendees at a Washington, D.C., technology conference on Dec. 18 that Johnson is set to start work on Dec. 23.

In addition, DHS' IT operations officially got a new top manager on Dec. 17. In a blog post that day, Acting Deputy Secretary Rafael Borras welcomed Luke McCormack as the department's new CIO. McCormack had been CIO and deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management at the Justice Department. He was named to the DHS position in October.

Posted by John Bicknell on Dec 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM0 comments

TechAmerica taps new head for public sector

Michael Hettinger

TechAmerica named a new head of its public sector group on Dec. 19, about a month and a half after the departure of several key employees to a competing tech association.

Mike Hettinger, who TechAmerica called a leader in the public-sector technology industry, will become the association's senior vice president for the public sector. Hettinger brings extensive experience on Capitol Hill, in the private sector and with trade associations.

TechAmerica is currently embroiled in a legal battle with rival Information Technology Industry Council over ITI's hiring of a number of TechAmerica's public-sector executives, including Hettinger's predecessor Trey Hodgkins.

Hettinger had been vice president for the Public Sector Innovation Group at the Software and Information Industry Association. Previously, he served as executive director of Grant Thornton's Global Public Sector practice, where he oversaw strategic planning and market development.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Hettinger was staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee.

"We were fortunate to have many outstanding candidates, several referred by our board and members, but Mike stood out," said TechAmerica President and CEO Shawn Osborne. "His extensive experience will enable TechAmerica to increase our leadership in this sector to the benefit of our members."

As Hettinger departed, SIIA announced that State Department veteran Carl Schonander would become its director of international public policy, a new position the association said reflects the increasing impact of global policy debates on U.S. technology and digital content business.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM0 comments

Former Microsoft exec to take over 'tech surge'

Kurt DelBene

Kurt DelBene will lead repair efforts for the troubled

Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over from Jeff Zients as the man in charge of fixing the troubled website. Zients will move on to the post of director of the National Economic Council in February.

"Kurt will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "The president and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about Kurt's leadership and management of will be in consultation with [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and in partnership with the project's general contractor, QSSI."

Sebelius thanked Zients for his work in leading the repair effort, saying that "the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on Oct. 1."

DelBene starts Dec. 18. The swift appointment came at the urging of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who wrote a letter signed by numerous Senate colleagues, including Virginia Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, asking President Barack Obama to maintain continuity in leadership of the so-called tech surge. That effort has been in effect since mid-October following the disastrous public launch of on Oct. 1.

DelBene will be responsible for keeping the site running efficiently through the March 31 open-enrollment period. The job "will include a focus on increasing system stability, redundancy and capacity, and building on improvements to the user interface, while continuing to prioritize security and privacy issues in line with industry best practices," Sebelius said.

DelBene will be on the job when the hosting of transfers from Verizon Terremark to Hewlett-Packard.

DelBene's career at Microsoft overlapped significantly with the tenure of current U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel, who worked at the software company from 1994 to 2009. So far, VanRoekel has maintained a low profile on the issue, and any role he had in recommending DelBene was not disclosed in the HHS announcement. His office did not immediately return a request for comment.

DelBene, who retired as president of the Microsoft Office Division, had a 20-year career at the software giant. One of his recent initiatives was the launch of Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft's popular business applications.

He is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who was elected to Congress in 2012.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM2 comments

James confirmed as Air Force secretary

Deborah Lee James

The Senate on Dec. 13 confirmed Deborah Lee James as Air Force secretary on a vote of 79-6, nearly three months after her confirmation hearing. President Barack Obama nominated her to the position Aug. 1.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) had blocked a vote on James' confirmation pending a request for further information about the Air Force's A-10 aircraft program. Ayotte lifted her hold in October.

New Senate rules make it much more difficult for lawmakers to indefinitely stall executive branch and judicial nominees, and James is the latest in a string of picks who have been ushered through since the change went into effect Nov. 21.

"On behalf of the more than 690,000 men and women of the U.S. Air Force, I want to welcome Secretary James to our Air Force family," Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a Dec. 13 statement. "I'm confident that she'll lead us with the same vision and passion she's shown throughout her public service and private sector leadership, building on the extraordinary accomplishments of our Acting Secretary Eric Fanning, who has magnificently led our Air Force these last few months."

James reportedly has been moving forward with getting ready for the job while she awaited confirmation. In late August she surfaced at the Pentagon and was said to be undergoing preparations for the confirmation hearing.

At that point, a Pentagon spokeswoman said James was still employed as president of the technology and engineering sector at Science Applications International Corporation.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Dec 13, 2013 at 9:17 AM1 comments

How many Commerce CIOs does it take to...?

If the question is "... round out the guest list for Deltek's 2013 holiday party," the answer is five:

Commerce CIOs: Reed Phillips, Roger Baker, Simon Syzkman, Alan Balutis and Barry West at the December 2013 Deltek holiday party.

Left to right: Reed Phillips, Roger Baker, Simon Syzkman, Alan Balutis and Barry West.

(Thanks to West for sharing the photo!)

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Dec 09, 2013 at 7:25 AM0 comments

Davie: GSA saved a billion on 2013 IT buys

Mary Davie, GSA

The General Services Administration helped save its government customers more than $1 billion on IT products, services and solutions in 2013, according to a key technology acquisition executive.

GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services met its goal of $1.35 billion in savings for federal users through innovative procurement methods, wrote Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for ITS, in a Dec. 3 post on her "Great Government Through Technology" blog.

Davie followed up on a November post by Bill Lewis, ITS' Networx program manager, in which he said the government saved an average of 35 percent off commercial prices by using Networx telecommunications contracting vehicles. Networx capitalizes on the combined buying power of federal agencies.

Davie echoed Lewis' claim that Networx racked up savings, saying its subscribing agencies kept $678 million more in their pockets in fiscal 2013 for telecom services. She said one agency, which she did not name, is expected to save 20 percent by using Networx.

She tallied up savings from other programs as well. Most agencies using GSA's USAccess shared-services program for identity, credential and access management services saved four to nine times the amount it cost individual agencies to buy those services on their own, according to Davie.

She also said agencies saved $775 million in software costs compared with commercial prices by using SmartBUY blanket purchase agreements. And as of Sept. 30, GSA's six-month-old site had saved 17 agencies an average of 7.27 percent, or $161,549.

Although Davie did not provide specific savings under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, she said the program's "do once, use many" approach to authority-to-operate requirements could save agencies a year and $100,000 in implementation costs compared to the time and money involved in instituting their own review processes.

In the coming year, GSA will test prices-paid initiatives for some of its contracts, including its Future Commercial Satellite Communications Services Acquisition vehicle and its governmentwide acquisition contracts, with the goal of helping its customers make better buying decisions by supplying information on the prices that other agencies have paid for the same services.

Davie said ITS has also been conducting a full-scale review of GSA's Federal Supply Schedules contracts to make sure they are meeting customers' needs. In addition, she said she hopes agencies will be ready in 2014 to fully capitalize on the Managed Mobility Program that GSA set up in fiscal 2013, and ITS was moving to reduce pricing variability on wireless service plans to help agencies get a better handle on costs.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 06, 2013 at 11:13 AM1 comments

CMS shares traffic reports for start page

With the site rebooted after a month of repairs, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are being increasingly forthcoming with reporters about traffic to the site.

Details of the site's poor performance at its Oct. 1 launch were revealed by officials in often-contentious congressional hearings and in documents requested from contractors under the threat of subpoena. With the site now on firmer footing, CMS is more than happy to volunteer the substantial uptick in traffic, with numbers being offered in near-real time on daily press calls.

More than 950,000 users visited on Dec 3, according to CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille. Between midnight and 1 p.m. on Dec. 4, the site had 310,000 visits. These new usage levels represent an 80 percent increase from a week earlier. A new comparison-shopping feature that allows users to compare plans and benefits in detail before logging in or creating an account has drawn 790,000 users since the evening of Dec. 1, making it the third-most popular page on the site.

CMS is still being stingy with one piece of information -- the error rates occurring in transmissions of enrollment data to health insurance carriers. These "834 forms" are still the cause of major headaches at insurance companies, and there remains the challenge of sorting through errors that persist in records for any of the approximately 126,000 users who enrolled in plans via the Federally Facilitated Exchanges in October and November.

Bataille said that developers at contractor Quality Software Services Inc., which is leading the repair effort, believe that "the majority of issues causing inaccuracies previously have been resolved."

However, she declined multiple requests from reporters on a conference call to quantify the number of people affected by 834 errors, and whether errors continue to affect enrollees who came to the site since Nov. 30. Press reports indicate that almost 30,000 users were able to sign up for insurance on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 alone -- a massive increase over previous enrollment levels. However, the bigger numbers could lead to big problems on the insurance-carrier side if the 834 errors persist, as many in the insurance industry suggest.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Dec 05, 2013 at 10:49 AM0 comments

New ITIC lobbyist says FITARA needs more work

Elijah Cummings and Darrell Issa together

The Information Technology Industry Council generally supports the legislation being pushed by Reps. Darrel Issa (R-Ca.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), but ITI's Erica McCann says FITARA should be part of a "broader dialogue on IT acquisition reform."

The Information Technology Industry Council's new Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector supports legislation to reform federal acquisition rules, but one of the group’s newest lobbyists cautioned that more work needs to be done before the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act is ready for prime time.

In a Dec. 3 post, ITAPS Manager of Federal Procurement Erica McCann said that while FITARA would provide needed changes in the federal procurement process, some of the acquisition provisions “need more discussion and should be part of a broader dialogue on IT acquisition reform that is now getting underway within the Defense Department and among policymakers on Capitol Hill."

Congress, McCann wrote, should move ahead on the FITARA provisions that have industry consensus, including those that would enhance the authority of civilian CIOs, allow a more flexible multi-year funding process, optimize data centers, strengthen the IT workforce and promote dialogue between contractors and federal contracting officers.

A joint letter in March sent by TechAmerica, ITI, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition for Government Procurement, ACT, and the BSA/Software Alliance to Issa contained much the same sentiment as McCann’s post.

The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, backed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), passed the House as part of the defense authorization bill in June. Now, FITARA is being proposed as an amendment to the Senate defense bill.

The post is the first by McCann on ITI's blog. She was one of four procurement policy lobbyists to leave rival industry association TechAmerica in November. TechAmerica subsequently sued ITI for $5 million in the D.C. Superior Court, claiming, among other things, that the lobbyists took proprietary association membership information with them. Trey Hodgkins, Pam Walker and Carol Henton were named in TechAmerica's suit; McCann was not included.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 04, 2013 at 10:06 AM0 comments

Obama appoints acting deputy Defense secretary

Christine Fox

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Dec. 3 that President Barack Obama accepted his recommendation to appoint Christine Fox as acting deputy Defense secretary, effective Dec. 5.

Fox will serve on an interim basis in place of Ashton Carter, who steps down as the Pentagon's second in command Dec. 4, while the search for Carter's permanent replacement continues.

Fox spent nearly four years serving as DOD's director of cost assessment and program evaluation before stepping down in spring 2013. She reportedly returned in September as an unpaid consultant to Carter. Fox also helped lead Hagel's sweeping review of the Pentagon budget.

"As a key leader of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, she helped identify the challenges, choices and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty," Hagel said in a news release. "She will be able to help me shape our priorities from day one because she knows the intricacies of the department's budget, programs and global operations better than anyone."

Fox, a former analyst at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar -- also known as the Top Gun school -- was the real-life inspiration for Kelly McGillis' character, Charlie, in the 1986 Tom Cruise movie.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Dec 03, 2013 at 9:06 AM0 comments

Federal 100 nominations close Dec. 23

Fed 100 logo

For a quarter-century, FCW’s Federal 100 awards have honored the women and men who go far beyond their assigned duties to make federal IT better. And if you know individuals who you believe should be among the 2014 Federal 100, it’s time to visit and get moving on their nominations!

I could make an argument about the importance of celebrating the good amid all the criticism of government; I even have the perfect news hook in the form of this past weekend's deadline for fixes. Or I could point out, as I have before, that budget pressures and poisoned politics make the great work being done in federal IT all the more impressive.

But no one who reads FCW needs to be reminded of those realities. You know how hard it is to drive real change, and you know people who rise to the challenge every day. So make sure the rest of our community knows about them, too.

Not sure what it takes to make the Federal 100? Here are five points to remember:

  1. Anyone in the federal IT community is eligible: career agency employees, political appointees, contractors, academics, association experts, even members of Congress (though legislators would likely fare better in the judging if they first fund the rest of fiscal 2014).

  2. The award is for individual accomplishments in 2013.

  3. Federal 100 winners go above and beyond, whatever their level or rank. A fancy job title is not required, and just doing one’s job well is not enough.

  4. You are allowed to make multiple nominations. Do so early and often.

  5. Impact matters. The judges need to know not only what a nominee did, but also what all that work accomplished.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 23. Please go to for more information, and get started today on your nominations.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Dec 02, 2013 at 5:37 AM0 comments

Senate panel approves DHS secretary nominee

Jeh Johnson

Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Jeh Johnson

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee OK'd former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson's nomination to become the next secretary of Homeland Security by voice vote on Nov. 20.

Johnson now faces a vote in the full Senate, where Arizona Republican John McCain has said he will hold up confirmation until Johnson provides more details about his plans to beef up border security.

But initial objections by a handful of Senate Republicans over Johnson's role as a fundraiser for President Barack Obama have died down, and his eventual confirmation appears all but certain.

Committee Chairman Tom Carper said Johnson's nomination comes at a critical time for DHS, which is still working to fill a host of senior management slots.

"If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr. Johnson will be met with the dual challenge of combating threats to our nation while also working to further strengthen management at the department and encourage more cohesion among the department's components," Carper said. "This is no easy task, but I am confident that we have a nominee who is up to the challenge."

Ranking Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma echoed Carper.

"With so much at stake and with limited financial resources, DHS must work with Congress to ensure that spending on counterterrorism and intelligence programs makes us safer," he said.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:31 AM0 comments

A new gig for former White House cyber adviser

Melissa Hathaway

Former White House adviser and high-profile cybersecurity expert Melissa Hathaway is joining the Centre for International Governance Innovation as a distinguished fellow.

Hathaway served as a cybersecurity adviser to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is the former acting senior director for cyberspace at the National Security Council and former adviser to the Director of National Intelligence. She is now president of Hathaway Global Strategies, a consulting firm, and a senior adviser to Project Minerva, a cybersecurity project jointly managed by the Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

"The Internet is at the very core of every aspect of life. There is nothing more important than ensuring that we engage in an international discussion about the priorities required to strengthen the services and infrastructures that are dependent upon the Internet," Hathaway said in a written statement. "There are many entangled economic, technical, regulatory, and policy issues that are part of every negotiation and discussion about the Internet and its future. I look forward to working with the CIGI team to bring more clarity to the international discussion and encourage governments to take actions and reduce risks."

CIGI is based in Ontario, Canada, but Hathaway is expected to remain in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM0 comments

Hagel announces DOD appointments

diagram of work team

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has appointed new officials to positions handling Pentagon intelligence, fiscal improvement and acquisition, technology and logistics.

Marcel Lettre was appointed to the Senior Executive Service as principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, based at the Pentagon. He replaces Thomas Ferguson as the principal staff assistant and advisor to the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and oversees related planning, policy and strategy. Lettre, who most recently served as special assistant to the Defense secretary, also will represent USDI to the intelligence community.

After being confirmed by the Senate in October, Alan Estevez has been assigned as principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, serving under Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for AT&L, at the Pentagon. Estevez previously served as assistant secretary of Defense for logistics and materiel readiness. He has been working for DOD in various capacities since 1981.

Margo Sheridan is taking the helm as director for financial improvement and audit readiness, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). Sheridan previously served as the Coast Guard's director of financial operations/comptroller in the Office of the Assistant Commandant for Resources/Chief Financial Officer. Sheridan takes over for Joe Quinn, who left in April for the private sector after three years leading DOD's massive undertaking in getting audit-ready.

Read the official announcement.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 13, 2013 at 7:07 AM0 comments


placing blame for

Posted by John Klossner on Nov 12, 2013 at 6:58 AM3 comments

A GovCon pat on the back


A kind of restrained rambunctious enthusiasm rippled through the 1,000 or so federal contractors gathered the night of Nov. 7 at the annual GovCon contracting industry awards in Tyson's Corner, Va. The enthusiasm, however, was tempered by the memory of recent government cutbacks and shutdowns and foreboding for those that may be still to come.

As the 11th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were handed out, presenters had to repeatedly shush the crowd to be heard above the laughter and loud conversations. The din came from contractors who have been working amid one of the toughest federal acquisition environments in years and the relief/trepidation in the throng was hard to hide -- relief from having made it through so far, but unease about another shutdown and continuing tight budgets.

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council sponsored the awards.

The evening's final winner -- Kymm McCabe, CEO at ASI Government, who accepted the Executive of the Year award companies with less than $75 million in sales — asked the crowd to stand, turn to the person on their right, and pat them on the back in congratulations for making it through a very tough year.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Nov 08, 2013 at 8:04 AM1 comments

Former USDA CIO joins AT&T

Chris Smith Fed 100

Former Agriculture Department CIO Chris Smith has joined AT&T Government Solutions as vice president of technology. He will lead the company's 175-member technology specialist team in developing and deploying systems for the federal market.

Smith earned a Federal 100 award in 2011 for his leadership in testing the Einstein 3 technology to help detect and respond to cyberattacks. He also led the transfer of email for 120,000 USDA employees to the cloud in 2011, earning a second Fed 100 award the next year for that project.

Smith retired from USDA in 2012 and joined Accenture under Kay Kapoor, then Accenture's managing director and chief executive of the federal business. She now heads AT&T Government Solutions, making this the second time she has hired Smith.

"Chris brings impressive depths of technology experience, especially in the areas of mobility, cloud, and cyber," Kapoor said in a written statement. "He is going to be an important engine of innovation for AT&T in the federal sector."

Posted by Michael Hardy on Nov 06, 2013 at 1:33 PM0 comments

Elizabeth McGrath to retire from DOD

Elizabeth McGrath

Elizabeth McGrath is about to retire from a 25-year DOD career, insiders say.

Veteran Defense Department official Elizabeth McGrath will be stepping down from her position as deputy chief management officer, according to Pentagon sources.

A spokesman said he could not confirm or deny that McGrath is retiring, but sources speaking on background said that she informed colleagues of her impending departure in a Nov. 4 staff meeting.

When asked in a September interview with FCW about her future plans, McGrath left the door open to potential a career change.

"I have no definitive plans to leave the office ... but I've been at DOD for 25 years. At some point I'll have to leave," she said.

McGrath is the Pentagon's first DCMO. She was sworn in July 1, 2010, and since then has focused on reforming DOD financial management, business operations and enterprise-wide systems efficiencies. Prior to her current role, she served as deputy director for systems integration at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 04, 2013 at 9:07 AM4 comments

Why agency jobs may be right up millennials' alley

Bill McDermott (Photo: SAP AG)

SAP AG Co-CEO Bill McDermott (Photo: SAP AG)

Bill McDermott, the 51-year-old co-CEO of SAP AG, shared an interesting stat with attendees at the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Oct. 30 Tech Celebration banquet.

Characterizing millennials -- workers in their 20s and early 30s -- as narcissistic and not career-oriented is unfair, he argued. What they are is "mobile, social and purpose driven," he said. "Eighty-four percent would rather work for a company with a purpose, that does something that matters," than get personal recognition like "a raise or a promotion."

Greater purpose, rare raises and nearly non-existent public praise? Young people, has government got a job for you!

Kidding aside, McDermott's remarks echoed something federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said Oct. 29 at ACT-IAC's recent Executive Leadership Conference. "Impact at scale," VanRoekel said, is the number one reason to give young people asking why they should work in government.

When at Microsoft, VanRoekel said, he thought he "was at the pinnacle" of working on "big projects ... with worldwide impact. But coming to government, by orders of magnitude, outpaces that in terms of what you can do."

McDermott offered another statistic to illustrate that point -- and to show just how much impact younger workers can have. The average age of engineers working on NASA's Apollo program in the 1960s, he said, was 26. The team lead? Thirty-one.

So actively recruit millennials, McDermott urged. Give them real responsibility early, and give them freedom to experiment and fail.

"If [a project] fails, kill it," he said. "But you have to create a culture where failure is acceptable."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Nov 01, 2013 at 9:33 AM0 comments

Air Force gets new acquisition chief

William LaPlante

William LaPlante Jr. is President Barack Obama's pick to be assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, according to an announcement from the White House on Oct. 30.

LaPlante currently serves as the principal deputy for the assistant secretary for acquisition, a job he began earlier this year. His duties include providing advice and guidance on Air Force acquisition and overseeing research, development, testing, production and modernization for a $40 billion annual portfolio, according to his bio.

LaPlante has spent his career in both the public and private sectors, and has served on a number of advisory boards, including the Defense Science Board, U.S. Strategic Command Senior Advisory Group and Naval Research Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Defense Department this year, he was employed at defense contractor MITRE Corp.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:01 PM1 comments

Wheeler confirmed as FCC chairman

Stylized radio tower

Thomas Wheeler, a former head of two telecommunications trade associations and an early supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was confirmed as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by the Senate on Oct. 29.

Wheeler's nomination had been on hold because Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expressed concerns that Wheeler was interested in imposing tougher disclosure requirements on political advertising. Currently, the FCC maintains an online collection of political advertising purchases as part of the public files of licensed broadcast stations. Cruz was concerned that the FCC might flex its muscles to get more information abut donors to nonprofits that buy ads on behalf of candidates and causes.

Cruz relented after Wheeler assured him that expanding the FCC's role in campaign finance was not a priority.

Joining Wheeler at the FCC will be Michael O'Rielly, a former staffer for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who will take up one of two Republican seats on the commission. Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn will return to her role as a commissioner.

"Tom Wheeler will be a strong advocate for consumers and the public interest at a time when the FCC is facing decisions that will shape the future of our nation's telephone network and the wireless, broadband, and video industries," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

Rockefeller and many other Senate Democrats had pushed for the elevation of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to the top slot. Wheeler's past as head of trade associations in the mobile phone and cable industries was a concern to some Senate liberals, who worried that he might be too beholden to industry.

One of the big priorities for Wheeler is a reclamation and reverse auction of spectrum, a program that allows TV broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum licenses so providers of wireless broadband may bid on it. The technology required to support the closely watched auction is among the more novel and complex IT challenges facing government.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:20 AM0 comments

House panel takes on DOD procurement reform

Mac Thornberry

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will spearhead an initiative to overhaul DOD's acquisition process.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee are set to launch a long-term reform effort aimed at the Defense Department, including an emphasis on overhauling the acquisition process.

At an Oct. 29 hearing, Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) announced that Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) would spearhead the initiative, with assistance from ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington.

"We cannot afford a costly and ineffective acquisition system, particularly when faced with devastating impacts of repeated budget cuts and sequestration," McKeon said in an opening statement at the hearing. "The Congress, together with the Department of Defense and industry, must be willing to do the hard work to find root causes, look past band-aid fixes and parochial interests, and have the courage to implement meaningful, lasting reform."

McKeon added that the initiative would include a "hard look at acquisition."

In an Oct. 29 opinion piece for Real Clear Defense, Thornberry called for defense acquisition reform as a top priority, noting that as much as 10 percent of federal discretionary spending goes toward military purchasing. He blamed "heavy federal regulations" for driving up costs.

"There are nearly 2,000 pages of acquisition regulations on the books, many of which have not been reviewed in years," Thornberry wrote. "Too often, Congress and the Pentagon respond to cost overruns by adding another law or an additional oversight office. The situation has gotten so bad that in order to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, entire new streamlined procurement systems were created in order to circumvent the normal process."

At least one industry group praised the proposed efforts. In an Oct. 29 statement, Professional Services Council CEO and President Stan Soloway urged the committee to consider recommendations PSC issued earlier this year.

"The recognition by Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith of the importance of seriously and thoughtfully addressing the persistent challenges in defense acquisition today is an important first step," said Soloway. "Given constrained resources, massive demographic challenges, and the nature and pace of technology development, now is the time to act boldly, broadly and smartly."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM5 comments

The challenge to collaboration

collaboration cartoon

Posted by John Klossner on Oct 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM0 comments

USPS names Cochrane as CIO

Jim Cochrane

The U.S. Postal Service selected its new CIO, and didn’t have to look far to find him.

USPS selected 39-year postal veteran James Cochrane for the role, according to an Oct. 25 memo from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

Cochrane has served as acting CIO since former CIO Ellis Burgoyne retired Oct. 1.

Like Burgoyne before him, Cochrane has spent his entire career at USPS, including 25 years in operations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan and northern Virginia areas.

Prior to stepping into the C-suite, Cochrane served as vice president of product information for USPS, where he oversaw IT innovations in tracking systems, including the Intelligence Mail barcode and Intelligent Mail package barcode. Cochrane’s tenure as vice president of product information coincided with “record high service levels” in those areas, according to Donahoe.

With budget difficulties and continued pressure from Congress to cut spending, Cochrane will be in the challenging position of overseeing technology and innovation in one of the largest IT organizations in the world

“As the Postal Service continues initiatives to add value to the mail for our customers, technology and information products and services are increasingly important to our corporate strategy, and [Cochrane] is well-suited to lead our efforts in those areas,” Donahoe said.

Cochrane’s main focus will be on advancements in new mail intelligence, engineering and IT systems, payment technology and corporate information security.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:06 PM1 comments

McCormack to be next DHS CIO

DHS logo

The White House on Oct. 24 tapped Luke McCormack, a former IT executive at the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and border protection agencies, to become DHS's top CIO.

McCormack has been rumored for weeks to be the leading candidate to fill the DHS CIO position last held by Richard Spires. Margie Graves has been acting CIO since March 15, when Spires went on leave from the position after four years of service. Spires resigned in May after two months leave that remain largely unexplained.

McCormack is currently the CIO and deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management at the Justice Department, a post he has held since February 2012.

The DHS nomination chips away at the nagging number of top-level management vacancies that have beleaguered the department in recent months. DHS still has more than a dozen such positions left unfilled -- and the Internal Revenue Service announced on Oct. 24 that it was hiring away DHS CFO Peggy Sherry, effective Nov. 4 -- but the last month has seen efforts to fill some of those vacancies either permanently or temporarily.

In fact, McCormack’s nod comes just days after the White House moved to fill the vacant top leadership slot at DHS. On Oct. 17 President Barack Obama nominated former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson to replace Janet Napolitano.

When McCormack’s name began circulating in September as a potential CIO candidate, sources familiar with DHS praised the choice, saying his previous work t Immigration and Customs Enforcement – where he was CIO from 2005 to 2012 -- gives him valuable experience with its parent agency, its IT leadership and operations.

He also previously served at Customs and Border Protection as acting director of infrastructure services division from 2004 to 2005, director of architecture and engineering from 2002 to 2003, and director of systems engineering from 1999 to 2002.

Before joining the federal government, according to the White House announcement, McCormack worked at various private sector companies, including MCI and Ford Aerospace.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 25, 2013 at 6:46 AM0 comments

Homeland Security CFO heads to IRS

revolving door

The Internal Revenue Service has tapped the Homeland Security Department’s chief financial officer to become its new deputy commissioner for operations support.

On Nov. 4, Peggy Sherry will move to the IRS to oversee the 11,500 employees in that agency’s IT operations, as well as its Human Capital Office, procurement, real estate, physical security, employee assistance and operations that watch over sensitive taxpayer information.

Sherry will replace Beth Tucker, who is retiring.

DHS confirmed that its budget director, Chip Fulghum, will become interim CFO there on Nov. 4.

Sherry was named DHS CFO in April 2012, after serving as acting and deputy CFO from 2008 to 2012. She also formerly served as deputy CFO and financial reports supervisor for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and as an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM0 comments

Alexander to leave NSA, cyber posts

Keith Alexander, DOD photo

Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, is expected to retire by April 2014, according to U.S. officials cited in a Reuters report. Alexander's deputy John "Chris" Inglis is also expected to leave by the end of this year.

The news comes amid a continuing drumbeat of stories about electronic spying and data collection programs carried out by the NSA, with the cooperation from leading Internet and telecommunications companies, as revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Alexander continues to defend NSA data collection, including bulk collection of metadata on domestic phone calls. "It's in the nation's best interest to put the phone data into a repository that the American public knows what we're doing with," Alexander said at a recent cybersecurity event covered by FCW. "I'm open for transparency. I'm open for where we put the data. ... How do we ensure that the American people know what we're doing is exactly right without letting the terrorists know how to circumvent it? That's the real issue."

During his term as head of Cyber Command, Alexander has called on Congress to pass legislation to allow for real-time information sharing between government and private-sector operators of critical infrastructure. The threat of cyberattack, Alexander told a Senate committee in March, is "getting worse."

Alexander has been NSA chief for eight years. His departure would give President Barack Obama an opportunity to select a candidate to lead the spy agency, and possibly to separate the roles of NSA head and leader of Cyber Command.

Vice Adm. Mike Rogers, who heads the 10th Fleet and the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, is a potential successor to replace Alexander, according to the Reuters report.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:23 PM3 comments

DOD's No. 2 stepping down

Ashton Carter

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is leaving his post for unexplained reasons.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will step down as of Dec. 4, according to an Oct. 10 release from the Defense Department.

In the release, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "reluctantly accepted his decision" and praised Carter's loyalty and effectiveness. Carter, 59, gave no reason for his departure.

Prior to becoming deputy defense secretary, Carter served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In that role he headed up DOD's Better Buying Power acquisition reform plan, among other initiatives.

As deputy secretary Carter took the lead on numerous initiatives, including planning amid budget cuts across the department as well as plans to "pivot" the focus of U.S. military strategy toward Asia.

Hagel called him "a brilliant strategist and excellent manager," and said Carter "possesses an unparalleled knowledge of every facet of America's defense enterprise, having worked directly and indirectly for eleven Secretaries of Defense over the course of his storied career."

"I have continually relied upon Ash to help solve the toughest challenges facing the Department of Defense," Hagel said. "I particularly appreciate his work spearheading the Strategic Choices and Management Review, which put the department in a far stronger position to manage through unprecedented budget uncertainty... but Ash's most recent tour of the department will be especially remembered for his tremendous efforts to provide more agile and effective support for our warfighters and their families."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 10, 2013 at 2:11 PM0 comments

GCN Gala moved to Nov. 19

GCN Awards logo

The continued partial government shutdown has prompted GCN to delay its 26th annual awards gala until Nov. 19.  

The event, which honors federal, state and local government teams for their extraordinary IT accomplishments, had been scheduled for Oct. 16. This year's federal winners include teams from the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury, and from NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

GCN and FCW are both owned by 1105 Media.

Posted by FCW Staff on Oct 10, 2013 at 5:34 AM0 comments

Geospatial conference postponed

James Clapper

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was to speak at the GEOINT Symposium later this month.

The U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation announced late on Oct. 8 that the partial government shutdown has forced the postponement of its flagship GEOINT Symposium.

The geospatial intelligence conference, scheduled to feature speakers including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was to be held Oct. 14-16 in Tampa, Fla.

USGIF previously had acknowledged the shutdown would affect the conference, but that it still planned to hold the event.

Ironically, it was ' enactment last week of legislation authorizing Defense Department personnel to be paid and ending much of DOD's furlough that forced a change in plans.

"Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 'Pay Our Military Act,' which allowed most Defense Department personnel to return to their jobs alongside the excepted personnel who were still working," Keith Masback, USGIF CEO, wrote in an e-mail to attendees. "However, the act also included language that has made it impossible for personnel to travel (except in direct support of operational forces) or attend events — including the GEOINT 2013 Symposium."

The conference is now slated to be held in spring 2014. More details can be found on the GEOINT website.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 09, 2013 at 9:26 AM0 comments

Feds' personal tweets give insight to #ShutdownLife

Justin Herman's 'shutdown beard'

Justin Herman and his 'shutdown beard,' which he's been documenting on Twitter since the shutdown began. (Image from Herman's Instagram.)

FCW posted its top seven feds to follow on Twitter on Day One of the government shutdown. At first glance that might seem counterintuitive -- many agencies tweeted that they would be unable to update their accounts during the shutdown. But some feds are keeping the Twitterverse illuminated with their shutdown stories and opinions via their personal accounts.

Justin Herman, social media guru for the General Services Administration, is providing updates on his #shutdownbeard. A day before the shutdown, Herman tweeted "I've taken 3 oaths of office in 10 years: military officer; Congressional aide; Fed executive. Public service demands an Iron Price sometimes".

Beth Beck, open innovation program manager at NASA, signed off with a flourish. "Shutting down my NASA iPhone + iPad during furlough = forced digital detox. Let the cleanse begin," she tweeted.

Some feds tend toward comedy, others toward opinion. Dan Munz, deputy assistant director for consumer engagement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tweeted, "Basically, there's now a strong incentive to fill legislation with minor symbolic things you can bargain away later to protect the core."

Munz's agency is fairly new, so he can perhaps be forgiven for ignoring the fact that using legislative leverage to get what you want has been a staple of congressional affairs since the days of Hamilton and Jefferson trading the states' debt for a capital on the Potomac.

Others eschewed politics for simple good manners. After tweeting about not being accessible during the shutdown, Jeanne Holm of NASA tweeted, "I've never wanted to say 'I'm sorry' to so many people in one day. Thanks for your patience and understanding."

Posted by Reid Davenport on Oct 07, 2013 at 1:57 PM1 comments

Top 5 tech worries

federal list cartoon

Posted by John Klossner on Oct 04, 2013 at 7:51 AM0 comments

Postal Service picks acting CIO

Jim Cochrane

James Cochrane, a 39-year postal service veteran, will take over as CIO on an acting basis.

The U.S. Postal Service has tapped an acting CIO to replace Ellis Burgoyne, who retired Oct. 1.

James Cochrane, formerly vice president of USPS's product information department, will temporarily replace Burgoyne, according to an announcement from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

Like his predecessor, the Postal Service's only CIO to emerge internally, Cochrane has already had a lengthy career at USPS.

Over the past 39 years, Cochrane has held leadership roles in several departments, including ground shipping, marketing and strategy for expedited package services. He also served as associate vice president of sales for the former Northeast Region, where he was responsible for commercial sales of $12 billion annually.

It is unclear how quickly USPS will pursue a permanent CIO, but Donahoe indicated USPS's technology plans will not wait.

 Cochrane "will oversee the integration of technology and innovation in delivering more than 170 billion pieces of mail to an estimated 150 million homes and businesses nationwide," Donahoe said, and "will direct the advancement of new mail intelligence, engineering systems, information technology systems, payment technology and corporate information security to meet the changing needs of our customers."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Oct 03, 2013 at 12:23 PM3 comments

Army CIO steps down

Susan Lawrence

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence retires with 41 years of Army experience.

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence is retiring after 41 years of Army service, including more than two years as the service’s chief information officer.

"When I stepped into the CIO/G-6 position, I knew I would be in for one of the most challenging jobs I'd ever had. What I didn't know is that it would also be one of the most rewarding," Lawrence wrote in a farewell blog post on the CIO/G-6 website. "Together, we have created what I sincerely hope will be irreversible momentum in modernizing our Army and leveraging technology to keep us the most capable force in the world."

Lawrence began serving as Army CIO on March 2, 2011. The Iowa native has commanded at every level from platoon to Army Signal Command, according to her bio.

In her time at CIO/G-6, Lawrence championed Army efforts in data center consolidation, network modernization and the transition to enterprise email, a plan she said will save $1.5 billion annually beginning in 2015.

Lawrence also encouraged colleagues to focus on the launch of cyber protection teams.

"We must execute this to standard – it is a no-fail mission," she wrote. "It will take the entire team to achieve this goal. To ensure success, we need to identify the right talent and, as individuals are selected, your support to allow them to transition to the CPTs. Our relevancy depends on getting the CPTs into the force quickly and smoothly."

With Lawrence stepping down, Mike Krieger, deputy CIO/G-6, will take over the top job on an acting basis. Brig. Gen. Joseph Brendler, CIO/G-6 director of architecture, operations, networks and space, is serving as acting deputy CIO.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 02, 2013 at 9:35 AM0 comments

DISA gets new vice director

Alan Lynn

Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn most recently served as commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has a familiar face in place as its new vice director: Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, who most recently served as commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Lynn assumed the role as of Sept. 30, marking a return to DISA after leaving as chief of staff in 2008. Prior to his NETCOM assignment, Lynn commanded the Army Signal Center of Intelligence.

Lynn succeeds Rear Adm. David Simpson, who in a Sept. 30 DISA release reflected on his experience at the agency, where he had served as vice director since July 2011.

"I have always been a DISA fan," Simpson said. "What I didn't fully appreciate [before working here], was the breadth and depth of the talent at DISA. I have been very impressed with the number of simultaneous activities that go on all around the world, every day, led by individuals at DISA who see the imperative to reduce mission gaps and to provide new capabilities for warfighters at the edge."

Simpson stepped in at DISA in the midst of a tumultuous Army-wide transition to enterprise email, an experience he said led him to an "epiphany" that even the greatest technology cannot be a change agent by itself.

Simpson also looked back at DISA's evolving approaches to mobility, cybersecurity, the Joint Information Environment and warfighter support overall, while offering a hint of what Lynn has to look forward to

"I think DISA will be an agency that is increasingly predictive and proactive as it brings all of the support functions — acquisition, procurement, technology, research and development, test and evaluation, and spectrum — together in an enterprise framework," he said. "I also see DISA in a lead role for the command and control of DOD information networks and defensive cyber operations, where the each of the service components, combatant commanders and theater forces rely upon DISA to anchor the information environment supporting all of their critical operations."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM0 comments

Borras named DHS acting deputy secretary

Rafael Borras

Rafael Borras will become acting DHS secretary.

The White House has tapped Rafael Borras to become acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Borras has been undersecretary for management at the agency since 2011. Chris Cummiskey, DHS's deputy undersecretary for management, will step into Borras' old job in an acting capacity. DHS officials confirmed both appointments.

The two appointments come as DHS has more than a dozen top-level managers' slots that are either vacant or filled by acting officers.

Borras replaces Rand Beers, who had stepped in for acting deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute after she left DHS in May. Lute is now president and CEO of the Council on CyberSecurity, a nonprofit organization launched in mid-August.

DHS has been under pressure to fill its vacant leadership posts. At a Sept. 19 House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) remarked that 18 of the agency's top 40 management positions were vacant.

The agency lost former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano in September when she departed the agency to become president of the California's state university system. Napolitano's permanent replacement has not been nominated.

President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the deputy secretary position, Alejandro Mayorkas, is still awaiting a Senate confirmation vote. Mayorkas, who is currently director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service, is being investigated by the DHS inspector general as part of a broader inquiry into CIS's foreign investor program.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM0 comments

Rand Paul wants to move feds into Obamacare

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul wants a constitutional amendment to apply Obamacare to everyone, including federal employees and Supreme Court justices.

Federal employees found out that their health insurance premiums were going up an average of 3.4 percent for fiscal year 2014. That may seem like bad news, but if one lawmaker has his way, annual single-digit premium increases under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan might be fondly remembered as the good old days.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced plans to propose a constitutional amendment that would, among other things, require federal employees to purchase health insurance on exchanges created by the 2010 health care law. Details of the proposal were not available, but it appears that it would eliminate a raft of benefits enjoyed by feds, including the subsidy that helps pay about 72 percent of federal employees' insurance premiums.

Paul singled out for special mention Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the 2012 opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius that upheld the law.

"My amendment says basically that everybody, including Justice Roberts -- who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare -- gets it too," Paul told the Daily Caller, a conservative news website. "See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer. And if he likes Obamacare so much, I'm going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts."

Paul's proposal comes more than a month after the Office of Personnel Management announced that members of Congress and their staffs, who are required to buy health insurances via exchanges under a provision of the law, will obtain premium support from their employers -- the government. Private employers are specifically barred by the law from providing any such subsidy. The OPM provided the special exemption after fears that the elimination of premium support would create a wave of resignations among congressional staffers.

A constitutional amendment would have to gain the support of two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate, then be ratified by three-fourths of the states, so the chances of Paul's amendment being ratified are fairly close to zero. But legislative proposals to end the OPM-approved subsidy for lawmakers and staff could become part of the debate over fiscal 2014 appropriations as the clock ticks down on fiscal 2013.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:06 AM4 comments

NASA, NOAA chastised over testimony

Paul Broun

Rep. Paul Broun said NASA and NOAA were 'inconsiderate' for not providing testimony in advance.

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA felt the wrath of Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun during a Sept. 19 hearing on efforts to launch new satellites critical to the nation's weather forecasting.

Broun chastised both agencies, calling the failure to provide prepared testimony to lawmakers in advance "inconsiderate," especially given the magnitude of the issues at hand.

Neither agency provided written testimony 48 hours in advance to members of the Science, Space and Technology subcommittees on Environment and Oversight, as is the usual practice. Broun chairs the oversight subcommittee.

"I would have appreciated reading the testimonies 48 hours ago, when they were due," Broun said, before taking both scientific agencies further to task.

Broun, a candidate for Georgia's open Senate seat in 2014, also expressed dissatisfaction with NASA for not complying with congressional requests about which official would testify.

Broun did not say whom the subcommittees had wanted to appear, but it was not Marcus Watkins, director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division, who represented NASA. Watkins was unable to provide answers to many questions after he delivered his prepared remarks.

Broun then excoriated NOAA for what he considered its lax approach in responding to questions from committee members. The congressman said NOAA has yet to submit answers to questions from more than a year ago, and instructed Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Service at NOAA, to provide answers soon to previous questions and to be more prompt about responding to future requests for information.

Broun said NOAA's actions -- much like its failure to provide advance testimony -- were "inappropriate and inconsiderate."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:02 AM2 comments

GSA's Bajinder Paul to change agencies

revolving door

The Federal Trade Commission has found its new chief information officer.

FTC officials confirmed Bajinder Paul, deputy associate administrator of citizen services and innovative technologies at the General Services Administration, will replace former FTC CIO Jeff Huskey, who left the agency in March.

Paul has a lengthy resume in IT management, the last three years of which have been spent at GSA. Previously, he served nearly four years as CIO at the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of Currency, a combined three years as acting CIO and deputy CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and four years at various positions at the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

 Paul is a two-time Federal 100 winner. He earned the award in 2008 for creating a Web portal to provide nationwide access to all types of housing disaster assistance while at HUD and again in 2010 at Treasury, where he launched an IT modernization strategy built on business-driven architecture, cloud computing and Web-based tools.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM1 comments

Is cyber-offense the answer?

gloved hands

Private-sector companies spend billions of dollars each year on cybersecurity to keep the bad guys out of their systems, but their efforts are often exercises in futility as the tools and capabilities of cyber threats continue to increase.

Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) puts the increased threat in perspective, containing data on 47,000 cyber-security incidents and 621 confirmed data breaches reported by 19 worldwide partners, including the U.S. Secret Service. Twenty percent of reported private-sector breaches – 70 percent of breaches are discovered by third parties, by the way – were perpetrated by state-affiliated actors such as China, according to DBIR, and most often driven by financial motives.

And as Steven Chabinsky, senior vice president of legal affairs and chief risk officer of Crowdstrike told an audience at an FCW cybersecurity briefing Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., the bigger that companies and federal agencies build their walls, the taller ladders these adversaries come up with to scale them.

"The bad guys don't give up," said Chabinsky, specifying that attacks are often perpetuated by the same parties. Yet strong defenses and big data analytics for situational awareness do little to curb outside threats or reduce or eliminate future threats.

Chabinsky recommended a different course of action, calling for the government to go on the offensive with diplomatic, informational, military, economic and law enforcement threat-deterrence options, in addition to private sector civil remedies.

"The government had better get a handle on threat deterrence. The private sector has had enough," Chabinsky said. "We need to shift to threat deterrence." 

Chabinsky's comments differed from those expressed at the same briefing by Thomas Rid, author of "Cyber War Will Not Take Place." Chabinsky argued that, without more credible U.S. deterrence, cyber-attacks and their consequences could indeed rise to a level of cyber-war.  

Rid, citing the "black budget" leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, said the U.S. government already spends too much money on offensive cybersecurity tactics. More money, he said, should go toward defending existing networks.

Note: This story was updated on Sept. 17 to clarify Chabinsky's emphasis on threat deterrence. 

Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:23 PM0 comments

Former NASA CTO steps aside at his OpenStack-focused startup

Chris Kemp

Chris Kemp will bring in a new CEO at his company, Nebula.

As government exits go, Chris Kemp's 2011 decision to leave NASA and launch a company to build OpenStack cloud services was particularly ambitious. But the former CTO's firm, Nebula, is two years old and growing, and on Sept. 13 Kemp announced that he is stepping aside as CEO to bring in industry veteran Gordon Stitt.

Kemp, a 2010 Federal 100 winner, is now Nebula's chief strategy officer. He remains on the board and will continue as a member of the executive team, according to the company's announcement.

OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds that has its roots in NASA's Nebula Cloud Computing Platform. NASA joined forces with Rackspace, which has developed a similar project, to create OpenStack in 2010.

Stitt will formally take over as CEO on Sept. 23.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Sep 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM0 comments

Could ICITE have stopped Snowden?

James Clapper

DNI James Clapper argues that a new IT initiative might have prevented the leaks of classified information that exposed details about NSA operations. (File photo)

A new IT strategy being implemented by the intelligence community might have sniffed out National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden as he was downloading classified material from agency systems to leak to reporters, says the nation's top intelligence officer.

The original motivation for the new Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE), designed to unify systems across 17 intelligence agencies, was cost savings, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance IC Summit event Sept. 12.

"What we're spending on IT in the intelligence community is amazing," Clapper said. The cloud-based ICITE approach saves money while encouraging integration among component agencies and improving security. "The Snowden issue emphasizes the importance of doing it," he said.

"The bumper-sticker mantra is 'tag the data, tag the people'," Clapper said. The approach allows intelligence agencies to "label the data and assure yourself of the bona fides of the people with whom you're going to share," he said. Without offering details, Clapper suggested that implementation is not an entirely painless process. "We're well past the euphoria of what a great idea this is, and we're into the passive aggressive resistance phase."

Clapper pointedly stated that he did not consider Snowden a whistleblower, but he offered a silver lining to the cloud that's hanging over the intelligence community. "As loathe as I am to give any credit for what's happened here, which is egregious, I think it's clear that some of the conversations that this has generated, some of the debate, probably needed to happen. Perhaps it's unfortunate it didn't happen some time ago," he said.

Because of Snowden, the intelligence community is bringing more "emphasis and energy" to insider threat detection, Clapper said. One of the pieces of this is clearance reform, both in improving the process and making sure that the government follows up on the five-year reinvestigations into cleared personnel. He intimated that plans were in the works to automate the process of maintaining security clearances. "We've got to change the system, fix it, take advantage of technology so we are enabled to evaluate people continuously, not just periodically," he said.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM1 comments

Obama nominates deputies for VA, Navy

Jo Ann Rooney

Jo Ann Rooney is the president's nominee for Navy undersecretary.

President Barack Obama on Sept. 10 announced nominations for high-level positions in the departments of Veterans Affairs and Navy, potentially filling roles that have been vacant since spring.

At the Defense Department, Obama nominated Jo Ann Rooney as Navy undersecretary. Rooney serves managing director at the Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, a position she has held since 2012.

In 2011 and 2012, Rooney was the principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, where she oversaw military readiness and acted as the deputy senior policy advisor to the Defense Secretary on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for roughly 3.5 million military and civilian personnel. She also has a background in academia and the private sector, with a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania and law degrees from Boston University and Suffolk University, according to her DOD bio.

Rooney would replace Robert Work, who stepped down as Navy undersecretary in March after four years in the position.

Sloan Gibson

Sloan Gibson

At the VA, Sloan Gibson, president and CEO of the United Services Organization, was nominated as deputy secretary at the VA. Gibson has been at the USO since 2008. Prior to that, he spent two decades in the banking industry, according to his USO bio. The 1975 West Point graduate earned both Airborne and Ranger qualifications and served as an Army infantry officer. Gibson is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Gibson would succeed Scott Gould, who resigned May 17 amid an exodus of top VA officials that included Chief of Staff John Gingrich, CIO Roger Baker and CTO Peter Levin. The departures came amid troubles at the VA, particularly related to its IT operations.

Both nominees face Senate confirmation.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 11, 2013 at 5:55 AM3 comments

The appropriations game

2014 approrpriations cartoon

Posted by John Klossner on Sep 10, 2013 at 6:35 AM0 comments

GPO picks second-in-command

James Bradley

James C. "Jim" Bradley, a longtime leader at the Government Printing Office, has been named deputy public printer.

Bradley has served as assistant public printer for operations and as head of the Official Journals of Government unit, which helps produce the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and other key GPO products. In his new post, Bradley will lead marketing operations at GPO, overseeing printing plants, sales, and products including the Congressional Record, passports and other federal identification credentials.

Davita Vance-Cooks, public printer and head of the GPO, said, "Jim's experience in federal printing and information policy issues is unrivaled. He is a natural leader with a proven record of success in managing GPO's operations to meet the critical needs of Congress and federal agencies. He is especially well-qualified to pursue the changes necessitated by the recent recommendations of the National Academy of Public Administration and he will keep GPO moving forward in this digital era."

Before joining GPO in 1998, Bradley served as a staff member on the Joint Committee on Printing, a bicameral Congressional panel charged with oversight of the GPO.

Bradley's appointment comes at a time of flux for the agency. In her confirmation hearing and in comments on the radio show "Federal Drive," Vance-Cooks spoke of her desire to rebrand the agency as the Government Publishing Office, a nod to how much of the agency's efforts are focused on digital documents, databases and mobile applications.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 03, 2013 at 1:05 PM0 comments

Army swears in new cyber command leader

Edward Cardon

Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon has taken the helm at Army Cyber Command. In this 2009 photo, Cardon, left, while serving as acting commandant of the Command and General Staff College, congratulates class president Lt. Col. Richard Malish during the Intermediate Level Education graduation ceremony. (Army photo)

In a ceremony held Sept. 3 at Fort Belvoir, Va., Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno swore in Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon as commander of Army Cyber Command.

Cardon previously served as commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. Prior to that, he was deputy commanding general for support for U.S. Forces-Iraq. That appointment was the last of Cardon’s several commanding positions in and deployments to Iraq.

According to his bio, Cardon was born in Texas and raised in California, and has received roughly a dozen decorations for his service since being commissioned as an engineer officer from the U.S. Military Academy in 1982.

Cardon succeeds Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, who is retiring, as head of Army Cyber Command/2nd Army.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 03, 2013 at 3:16 PM3 comments

Encouraging telework


Posted by John Klossner on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:07 AM0 comments

Former IP czar to head software lobby group

Victorial Espinel (nonstandard size)

Victoria Espinel, who led intellectual property enforcement for the federal government, will take over as president and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance, a trade group that represents software companies.

Espinel was the first U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator in the Office of Management and Budget. The post was designed to align the work of law enforcement organizations, federal agencies, private companies and foreign governments in preventing and prosecuting intellectual property theft and infringement. Often likened to a "copyright czar," the job was established by Congress in 2008 and first staffed under the Obama administration.

BSA supports intellectual property protection and the advancement of cloud computing on behalf of commercial firms, including Adobe, Intel, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and many others.

Espinel figured prominently in two industry agreements designed to thwart intellectual property theft. In July of this year, her office announced a deal among leading online content and advertising companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, to reduce the flow of ad revenue to websites that attract audiences by posting pirated material. In 2011, Espinel helped broker a deal between Internet service providers and entertainment companies to allow ISPs to disrupt the service to individuals suspected of pirating music and movies using peer-to-peer networks.      

She has won plaudits from copyright activists and industry for her work. Gigi Sohn, president and CEO of the open Internet group Public Knowledge, said Espinel "Understood the importance of balance and fair use in copyright policy -- these were not merely buzzwords for her."

Before taking on the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator post, Espinel served as the assistant U.S. trade representative for intellectual property and innovation during the George W. Bush administration.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 28, 2013 at 11:36 AM1 comments

Making the case to attend SXSW

Elon Musk at SXSW Interactive - Photo courtesy of SXSW

The South by Southwest conference attracts top-tier speakers like Tesla founder Elon Musk, while also digging into the details of technology's impact. (Photo courtesy of SXSW Inc.)

Given tight budgets and travel restrictions, most feds likely would be hard-pressed to secure permission to attend South by Southwest. But for those who can find a way -- or simply decide to make a personal trek to the Austin, Texas, festival next March -- Gadi Ben-Yehuda of the IBM Center for the Business of Government has a list of especially relevant proposed panels.

In a post on GovLoop, Ben-Yehuda offered this list of provocative topics, and urged government techies to vote for the ones they like best:

SXSW may be overhyped, Ben-Yehuda allowed, but it still boasts "speakers that should inspire anyone interested in technology's impact." Or at least anyone who can get the travel approved.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM1 comments

More encrypted data storage ahead for feds?

Castle Muiderslot, Holland

Castle Muiderslot in Muiden, Holland, and its moat. (Stock image)

It takes more than a moat to protect a castle, especially if it's made of data.

That's according to Mark Day, acting deputy assistant commissioner of Integrated Technology Services at GSA, who voiced a few interesting sound bites at an Aug. 22 IT procurement forum.

Day, fielding a question about cyber-security at the Lowering the Cost of Government with IT Summit in Washington, D.C., said current cyber efforts are not enough to protect sensitive data across the government.  He suggested all such data be encrypted unless it is in use.

Day referenced Army Pvt. Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who divulged classified surveillance secrets to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers. Both, he noted, were insiders – people against whom the large "moat" of on-premise cyber-security does little to defend.

"Insider threats have always been and will always be one of our primary issues – can you spell Snowden or Manning?" Day said. "If the moat didn't work, let's look at new models beyond the moat and a stack of paper."

Day questioned why data was ever unencrypted "except when it is used on screen," suggesting it be encrypted at all other times, including when it is essentially "at rest." He hinted there would be problems in such a scenario, though he did not divulge what they would be.

Ultimately, Day said existing cyber-security measures may help keep out the bad guys, but only if those bad guys aren't your guys.

"We're doing a lot of work to build moats," Day said.

And the moats aren't working.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM0 comments

Intelligence Community turns to Tumblr for transparency

James Clapper

DNI James Clapper introduces "IC on the Record" on Tumblr. (File photo)

The National Security Agency may have misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has acknowledged answering Congress in the "least untruthful manner" possible, but on the Tumblr blogging service, the Intelligence Community is all about opening up to the public.  Or so it says.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Aug. 21 launched IC on the Record, a new blog devoted to providing "immediate, ongoing and direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community."

The first day's postings included nine declassified documents relating to Section 702 of FISA.  Other materials were pre-posted before launch, dating back to President Barak Obama's Aug. 9 remarks promising a website to share such information.

Clapper, noting that "Americans are engaged in a discussion" about the IC's surveillance efforts, wrote on the blog that "it is imperative that we do so with a full understanding of what the existing foreign surveillance authorities allow, what the oversight mechanisms are, and most important of all how they contribute to our safety and security."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 22, 2013 at 9:01 AM0 comments

IBM's Prieto named to DOD cyber post

Daniel Prieto

Daniel Pietro is now director of cybersecurity and technology at DOD's CIO office. (LinkedIn profile picture)

Daniel Prieto will join the Defense Department as a top cybersecurity official.

Prieto, who recently served as vice president of IBM's public sector global business services, was appointed to the Senior Executive Service and named director of cybersecurity and technology at DOD's CIO office in Washington. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his appointment on Aug. 20.

The new director is no stranger to cybersecurity policy: He also has been a senior associate in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' homeland security and counterterrorism program since 2010. Prior to that, Prieto was research director at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government's Homeland Security Partnership Initiative.  He also served as a professional staff member on the House's select committee on homeland security, according to his LinkedIn bio.

Prieto "has worked for two decades in the private sector, academia, and government at the intersection of technology, public policy, and national and homeland security issues," his CSIS bio states. Between 2002 and 2007, he has held various fellowship appointments at the Center for National Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and George Washington University.

Prieto also has held positions at America Online and J.P. Morgan., and is a member of the Aspen Homeland Security Group, co-founder and co-director of the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Working Group, and a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Academy of Sciences, according to the Center for National Policy.

Earlier this summer, Prieto wrote about the evolution of the intelligence community and its use of technology in a piece for Foreign Policy.

Posted on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:56 PM0 comments

Personnel shuffles at GSA

revolving door

The deputy assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration's Integrated Technology Services has been named to a new position.

GSA confirmed that Kevin Youel Page, who had been ITS deputy assistant commissioner, is now acting assistant commissioner of the Integrated Award Environment.

The Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Integrated Technology Services is headed by Assistant Commissioner Mary Davie. According to the GSA's website, Mark Day, director of the Office of Strategic Programs, is now acting deputy assistant commissioner, taking over Page's duties. Day's own LinkedIn profile also reflected the change, noting: "Interesting role to be a deputy. That is one role in long career that I have always avoided, but when asked to serve....!"

ITS is responsible for providing access to best-value IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions to federal, state, local and tribal government organizations.

Page, meanwhile, replaces Amanda Fredriksen, who had also been running the Integrated Award Environment in an acting capacity. Fredriksen was reportedly placed on administrative leave in June in the wake of a May report from the GSA inspector general that reviewed 2011 leadership conferences in Orlando and Atlanta.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Aug 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM0 comments

A careful biometrics strategy


Posted by John Klossner on Aug 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM0 comments

What kind of video goes viral?


Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" is a recent example of wildly successful viral video.

What kind of content goes viral, and why should feds take notice?

The answers to those questions and loads of additional social media insights are catalogued in a storified aggregation of tweets taken during a July 30 SocialGov Summit.

Justin Herman, new media manager at the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government, documented the commentary and uploaded it to GSA’s new media website Aug. 13.

The compilation gives feds a glimpse of the power social media has outside the government, as well as innovative approaches agencies such as GSA and NASA are taking with it. Take a look and learn a little.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:46 AM0 comments

Wennergren reveals retirement plans

Dave Wennergren

David Wennergren didn't spend much time enjoying a leisurely retirement. Barely more than a week after retiring from the Defense Department on Aug. 2, Wennergren has become a vice president at CACI International.

He starts his new job Sept. 3 as the vice president of opportunity management and customer delivery practices in the company's enterprise technologies and services business group.

"This will be the longest break I've had in over 30 years," he said.

Wennergren looks back at his career and the leadership lessons he learned.

Most recently, he served as the assistant deputy chief management officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and was DOD's deputy CIO. He's also been the Navy's CIO. He spent 33 years working in the Navy and Defense Department.

Several factors played into picking CACI for his first job in the public sector, Wennergren told Washington Technology.

"To me there are three things that should drive the decision of where you work," he said. "Who you get to work with; who you get to work for; and what you get to work on."

Who he gets to work with is a former colleague and mentor from the Defense Department, Dan Porter, who is an executive vice president of the enterprise technologies and services group where Wennergren is assigned.

"I have the opportunity to work with Dan again, and he is one of the smartest and brightest guys I've ever met," Wennergren said. "To work with him again is a really big plus."

The two first met as Navy civilians when Porter was running logistics operations, and Wennergren worked under him. When Porter became Navy CIO, he picked Wennergren as his deputy. After Porter retired, Wennergren took over as CIO.

"He has coached and mentored me throughout my career," Wennergren said.

He also was looking for a company that shared his values about service to the nation, integrity and delivering high-value solutions.

"CACI seemed like a really great match to me," he said. "I really wanted an opportunity to continue to help government make a difference."

Wennergren sees the government at a critical crossroads, in that there is rapid technological change taking place that is providing opportunities to do things in new and different ways, and improve how government operates.

"At the same time, the government is going to be dealing with tough financial times for years go to come," he said. "So, how you prioritize going forward is going to be crucial, and I want to help organizations work through that."

His new role at CACI will include a healthy dose of learning about the private sector and how business operates. He'll work on strategy and developing solutions for clients, he said.

"This is an opportunity to learn about the company and its clients, and figure out how to make a difference," he said.

There will be a focus on maritime and aerospace because that's an important business area for the group he's joining. "But I think primarily it'll be about helping to understand what the opportunities are out there, and working with government organizations about delivery value," he said.

CACI praised Wennergren's leadership and "great insight into how we can continue to evolve our capabilities to support the government's most critical information solutions and services requirements," said CACI CEO Ken Asbury in a statement.

Among his accomplishments is leading the DOD Enterprise Software Initiative, as well as chairing the DOD team overseeing implementation of the Defense Department's Common Access Card. His awards include the DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.

He's also chaired FCW's Fed100 judges' panel for several years. FCW is a sister publication to Washington Technology.

Joining CACI is not some sort of swan song for Wennergren, but a new chapter.

"I just turned 55, so I still have miles to go before I sleep," he said.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 13, 2013 at 4:16 PM2 comments

McAfee's Phyllis Schneck reportedly heading to DHS

revolving door

Phyllis Schneck, McAfee's chief technology officer and vice president of the security software company's global sector, will be named undersecretary of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, say sources familiar with DHS cybersecurity operations.

Although DHS and McAfee wouldn't confirm the move, industry sources have said Schneck will be named undersecretary after Acting Undersecretary Bruce McConnell departs. McConnell said in July that he planned to leave in August to return to the private sector.

With her deep background in high-performance computing and cryptography, Schneck emerged as strong candidate for the job in July, as the department searched for a permanent replacement after McConnell's departure. She serves as chairman of the board of directors of the National Cyberforensics and Training Alliance, a partnership among government, law enforcement and the private sector that provides information analytics that have been used to prosecute cyber criminals worldwide.

At McAfee, Schneck is responsible for public sector security and global threat intelligence applications, strategic thought leadership around technology and policy in cybersecurity, and initiatives in adaptive security and intelligence in networks for critical infrastructure protection and cross-sector cyber security.

McConnell became acting undersecretary in April after Mark Weatherford left DHS for the Chertoff Group consultancy after about a year-and-a-half on the job. McConnell had been DHS's senior counselor for cybersecurity before taking on the role of acting undersecretary.

Schneck will take over at a challenging time for DHS cybersecurity, which is in the midst of two major tasks: Carrying out the president's cybersecurity executive order and expanding its internal cybersecurity efforts.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Aug 06, 2013 at 12:58 PM0 comments

NASA's deputy administrator leaving space agency

Lori Garver

Lori Garver is taking a position with the Airline Pilots Association.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Aug. 6 via Twitter that she is leaving the space agency for a position with the Airline Pilots Association.

Garver, who held NASA's number-two position since July 2009, will work for NASA through Sept. 6, according to an agency spokesperson.

"I have had the pleasure and honor of working side by side with Lori for the past four years, as we sought to position the agency for 21st century spaceflight, scientific discovery and deep space exploration," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "She has been an indispensable partner in our efforts to keep NASA on a trajectory of progress and innovation. In a time of great change and challenge, she has been a remarkable leader who has consistently shown great vision and commitment to NASA and the aerospace industry. "

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, praised Garver's efforts during her tenure, not only in helping set NASA's aerospace priorities but also in leveraging partnerships to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

"She ensured that U.S. taxpayers were getting the most for their money from NASA with innovative public-private partnerships in space and on Earth, and her focus on getting more women and other underrepresented groups engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math was just as important," Holdren said

Garver, a Michigan native, worked previously for NASA from 1996 to 2001. As deputy administrator, she represented NASA to heads of other government agencies, the Executive Office of the President and Congress. Within NASA, Garver "led the way on so many" of the Obama administration's space priorities, Bolden said, including the agency's reestablishment of a space technology mission directorate, NASA's use of challenges and prizes to bolster scientific innovation, and the agency's commercial crew and cargo program.

There was no immediate word on who the White House would appoint to fill the position.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 06, 2013 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Will Coburn lift Archuleta hold?

US Capitol

The Obama administration’s signal late last week that the federal government would continue to offer contributions to the health care premiums of congressional staffers appears to clear the way for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to lift a hold on the nomination of Katherine Archuleta to head the Office of Personnel Management.

Coburn announced at a July 31 Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee meeting his intention to block a quick floor vote on Archuleta’s nomination until the administration made clear its position on health insurance benefits for congressional employees who are being forced out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into insurance exchanges created by a provision of the 2010 health care overhaul.

Under the law, members and staff are required to move to exchanges. But the provision does not specify whether the government is allowed to make contributions to defray premium costs. Many lawmakers feared that staffers would have to pay their entire premiums out of pocket, which could induce many to leave for more lucrative private-sector jobs. Hill staffers are scheduled to begin enrolling in the exchanges Oct. 1.

Coburn is waiting to review the regulations before commenting on whether the administration has satisfied his request. OPM is expected to publish proposed regulations governing coverage for Hill staff later this week.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 05, 2013 at 3:26 PM0 comments

Senate confirms historic GPO nominee

Davita Vance-Cooks

Davita Vance-Cooks is the first African-American and first woman to hold the title of public printer.

The Senate has confirmed Davita Vance-Cooks as head of the Government Printing Office, making her both the first African-American and first woman to hold the title of public printer.

Vance-Cooks has been the acting public printer since January 2012 and has more than 30 years of public- and private-sector experience. She has been at GPO since 2004, holding positions including chief of staff, managing director of publications and deputy managing director of customer services.

 Vance-Cooks' confirmation comes amid GPO budget cuts and the agency's move towards increased digitization.

"I look forward to working with everyone who shares a stake in our historic mission of keeping America informed as we continue transitioning our products and services to meet the needs of Congress, federal agencies, and the public in this digital age," she said.  

President  Obama nominated Vance-Cooks in May and her confirmation was the quickest Senate action on a public printer nominee in almost 20 years. The GPO, which opened in 1861, is responsible for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government. This includes the production and distribution of passports, and of official publications of Congress, the White House and other federal agencies.

Posted by Reid Davenport on Aug 02, 2013 at 11:32 AM0 comments

Republican tapped for open FCC slot

revolving door

President Obama nominated legislative aide Michael O’Rielly to the Federal Communications Commission post vacated by Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell.

The nomination paves the way for the Senate to hold a vote on the confirmation of Tom Wheeler as the new FCC chairman. Wheeler’s nomination was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on July 30, but Senate Republicans wanted to wait for a Republican nominee before proceeding with a confirmation vote.

O’Rielly is a policy advisor to Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas and has long experience working on technology and telecommuncations issues. He has worked in the whip’s office since 2012, spent time on the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate, and worked as a staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, he would serve out the remainder of McDowell’s five-year term, which ends June 30, 2014.

The FCC has been operating shorthanded for a few months now. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been leading the FCC as acting chairwoman since Julius Genachowski stepped down in May. McDowell resigned in March.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 02, 2013 at 11:06 AM0 comments

Accenture acquisition means new role for Traficant

Jim Traficant

Jim Traficant will head ASM Research, a new acquisition for Accenture.

Federal 100 winner and Accenture Federal Services executive Jim Traficant will soon have a new job:  president of ASM Research, the health care IT and human capital management firm which Accenture just acquired.

Traficant, who won his Fed 100 award in 2011 for his work at Harris Health Solutions on Federal Health Architecture for the Health and Human Services Department, is currently an AFS managing director.  He leads Accenture's military health projects with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and will continue in his AFS role while running ASM Research as a subsidiary company.

Traficant spoke with Washington Technology on July 31 about the acquisition and what it means for federal health IT.   The addition of ASM "provides unique access points into the market," he said, calling the acquisition and resulting business prospects a "once in a generation opportunity."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 01, 2013 at 3:24 PM0 comments

Top Energy Department official stepping down

Gil Vega

Gil Vega will take an unspecified financial-services position.

Gil Vega, the Energy Department's assistant CIO for cybersecurity and chief information security officer, is leaving his post for a private sector position.

Vega is heading to the New York City area, closer to his New Jersey roots, sometime in mid-August for an undisclosed job in the financial services industry, he told FCW on July 30.

Vega has been at DOE for two years. Prior to that, he was the chief information security officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Homeland Security Department. He also has held cybersecurity leadership roles in the Defense Department and intelligence community.

Paul Cunningham, deputy associate CIO for cybersecurity at DOE, will take over on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found, Vega said.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jul 30, 2013 at 2:48 PM1 comments

Friends, former colleagues praise Spires at event

Richard Spires

Former DHS CIO Richard Spires addresses a crowd gathered in his honor. (FCW photo by Frank Konkel)

Standing before a large crowd of friends and former colleagues gathered to recognize him on July 29, Richard Spires turned visibly emotional.

Spires, former Department of Homeland Security CIO, was clearly proud of an eight-year federal legacy that – at least on this night – seemed untainted by the strange circumstances under which he left government employment,  yet also humbled to be appreciated by so many who came out in his honor.

Spires took the stage following a lengthy ramp-up in which person after person spoke highly of his integrity, character and work ethic.  AFCEA Bethesda, GITEC, TechAmerica and AFFIRM sponsored the event, held at the National Press Club in Washington.

DHS acting CIO Margie Graves praised his leadership; acting and former DHS component CIOs expressed gratitude for his hard-nosed approach to federal IT efficiency; and several other  DHS employees, other feds and industry leaders thanked him for his service.

The theme of their remarks was perhaps best summed up by Justice Department CIO Luke McCormack, who previously served alongside Spires as the CIO of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at DHS. McCormack made light of Spires' intense work ethic before highlighting the need for a sometimes-tenacious CIO at large agencies like DHS.

"Richard laid out thought processes and astute observations," McCormack said. "He would listen for a moment, and then put the pedal to the metal. We understood where the goal line was, where the compass was headed. That was exactly what DHS needed at the time."

When it was finally his turn to speak, Spires briefly addressed his departure from DHS—he resigned in May after two months on an unexplained leave -- with a touch of humor, and spent the next several minutes hinting as his plans before highlighting the growing importance of IT in federal government.

"I left on some interesting terms," Spires said, drawing laughs and prompting a few red faces in the crowd. "People can professionally disagree, and there were some disagreements. Given those disagreements, I made the decision to leave. I'm going to miss government."

Consulting on his own right now, Spires did not rule out another government gig, but he is expected to return to the private sector, where he first made a name for himself before becoming one of the most recognizable figures in federal IT. Spires served four years at the Internal Revenue Services and another four at DHS, where he managed a $6.4 billion IT portfolio and saw considerable successes in implementing federal cost-savings initiatives.

In addition, Spires was vice-chairman of the federal CIO Council.

"Never say never, I'm not that old," Spires said, speaking of whether he'd ever be a fed again. "Maybe someday I'll return to government, but I'm getting more excited about easing back into the private sector."

"I can't imagine not staying part of this community," he added, "so you're going to get to see me around, whether you want to or not. I want to continue to have the government operate more efficiently."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:16 AM1 comments

Dickover leaves State for Institute of Peace

Noel Dickover, State Dept.

Fed 100 winner Noel Dickover has joined the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Noel Dickover, the State Department's Office of eDiplomacy guru for the past three years and one of the coordinators largely responsible for its successful TechCamps program, left last week to begin a new position with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He started in the new position on July 29.

Dickover announced the move on Twitter, saying he had a "terrific 3 years" at State and that he was looking forward to working on USIP's Peace-Tech Lab. He started at the State Department on July 1, 2010.

Dickover told FCW his work at USIP will focus on using low-cost technology like crowdsourcing to build peace and help stabilize social culture, particularly in developing countries.

"It gives me an opportunity to build technology for social good ecosystems in developing countries," Dickover said.

USIP is an independent, federally funded nonpartisan institution established by Congress to help manage international conflicts without violence.

Dickover is highly respected for his work at the Office of eDiplomacy, earning a Fed 100 award in 2012 for his efforts training grassroots organizations all over the world and increasing their digital capacity through interactive TechCamp meetings.

His efforts in organizing and executing TechCamps in places including Thailand, Israel, India, the Ukraine, Moldova and Zanzibar empowered nongovernmental organizations to adopt tech-savvy approaches to issues pertaining to disaster response, economy opportunity, empowering women and in some cases, democracy.

"Technologists love to be Superman," Dickover told FCW in a 2012 interview. "The TechCamp format gives them that opportunity."

State offered no insight on who might replace Dickover.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM0 comments

OMB streamlines SAVE Awards


Will fewer ideas submitted for the SAVE Awards lead to more applause-worthy offerings?

The government is streamlining its annual search for money-saving ideas from federal workers in the hope that gathering fewer ideas will yield better ideas.

Agencies are being given more time to evaluate proposals, according to a July 26 memo from acting deputy director for management and CIO Steven VanRoekel. Deadlines for agencies to nominate SAVE Award (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) candidates is being pushed back to Sept. 20, and agencies are being asked to identify just the top three to five money-saving ideas – down from five to 10 in years past. Additionally, agencies are being asked to package their SAVE Award ideas with their fiscal year 2015 budget submissions.

SAVE Awards reward federal employees who come up with practical ideas that save the government money, improve operations and can be easily replicated across government agencies. Agencies are required to submit a list of ideas to the director of OMB, who picks a group of finalists. The public is then invited to vote on the winning entry.

This year, agencies are being directed to avoid ideas that are similar to past finalists. The winning 2012 idea proposed making sure federal employees receiving public transit benefits are shifted to lower senior citizen fares as soon as they are eligible. In 2011, a NASA employee won with an idea to create a lending library of specialized tools, to avoid duplicate purchases.

The SAVE Award competition has generated more than 85,000 ideas since it was instituted in 2009.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM0 comments

BYOD: Bring Your Own Disaster?


The government's tool for re-securing a compromised iPhone.

Q: What's the government process for wiping an iPhone after a security leak?

A: Pound it with a hammer.

Managing mobile devices and their risks, instituting security measures on par with more traditional desktops and laptops, determining what tool to use when things go wrong – these are all commonly cited hurdles to BYOD in federal agencies. But there are so many others that accompany those concerns that it sometimes becomes difficult to imagine it's actually going to happen.

Of course, it's happening already, on a certain level. There are pilot programs. There are options, such as bolting $200 Common Access Card "sleds" onto the device for authentication purposes so Defense Department employees can take their smart phones to work.

But neither of those is the true BYOD policy that personnel in the digital era want: the freedom to use one familiar device to do it all, work and personal, without worries about "leakage" or having all your vacation photos smashed into oblivion.

"If you look at it from a financial standpoint, sure, it's the cost of the device," said Maj. Linus Barloon, chief of cyber operations division in the J3 directorate and cyberspace officer in the Air Force's White House Communications Agency. "But when you look at the man-hours associated with cleaning up a spill for a regular device, and now toss in a smart device – it's just easier to stay away from bring-your-own-device, issue the user one of your own devices such that you can [install] the governmental controls."

It is not just the devices, either. The data itself and the policies that govern BYOD present just as much, if not more, of a problem, officials said July 24 at MeriTalk's cybersecurity brainstorm event in Washington. The discussion there represented a snapshot of a conversation that is playing out across agencies and departments.

"There are more implications to BYOD than to cybersecurity," said Joe Johnson, managed mobility program manager at the General Services Administration. "Some of that has to do with legal, some of that has to do with employee unions – who pays for the devices, are they getting reimbursed? What are the legal implications of data that could be lost? It's a Pandora's box that I don't think anybody has really figured out yet. It's probably easier to think of BYOD from a security policy point of view than it is with the broader policy implications that extend beyond security policy itself."

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jul 26, 2013 at 1:28 PM0 comments

GSA slammed for setting a bad example

David McClure

GSA's Dave McClure felt some heat at a hearing on IT leadership. (File photo)

Dave McClure of the General Services Administration felt some heat during a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing on July 25.

Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) pummeled  McClure for setting a poor example in IT decision-making for other agencies to follow.

GSA, Mica said, has only closed one data center in three years, despite having identified 115 non-core data centers ripe for closing or consolidation.

The hearing was held to discuss the status of federal IT initiatives, including the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative led by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget. Mica was on the attack.

 "Then we've got McClure here, from GSA, you guys haven't set a very good example in operation," Mica said, after listening to testimony from Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel and Dave Powner of the Government Accountability Office.

McClure answered that GSA has planned to close 38 data centers by the end of fiscal 2013 and 47 by the end of fiscal 2014, but did not deny GSA had only closed one over the past three years.

However, other committee members, including Meadows, were skeptical of the ambitious numbers expected in the two months remaining in the fiscal year, given the track record.

"Where does the buck stop?" Meadows asked, staring at McClure.

McClure responded that the agency CIO "owns the issue" and the "head of the agency is ultimately responsible," noting that he is simply "the head of an office that provides tools" to get the job done. McClure is associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies

Meadows, staring at McClure, asked what would happen if GSA doesn't make the closure target.

"I think you should ask for an explanation," McClure said, suggesting the responsibility fall to GSA CIO Casey Coleman.

Meadows was not satisfied.

"We have a whole bunch of people that come and give testimony, but really don't have responsibility for implementing those things," Meadows said, clearly annoyed. "Hearing after hearing and nothing gets done. I think you have three core (data) centers, 115 non-core, and you've closed one in the past three years. Now we're going to ramp it up. Why is that?"

Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.) said GSA's move to close the data centers, announced after the subcommittee criticized GSA during a field conference it was invited to but didn't attend, looked like a disingenuous attempt to appease the subcommittee.

McClure responded that it "might have the appearance of that," but explained that the agency was not finished collecting data, thus its delay in publicizing planned closures.


Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:45 PM1 comments

Wennergren to retire

Dave Wennergren

David Wennergren, DOD's assistant deputy CMO and a three-time Fed 100 winner, wraps up a 32-year federal career.

The Defense Department's assistant deputy chief management officer is retiring from government service. David Wennergren, whose 32-year federal career has centered on change management and IT for DOD and the Department of the Navy, told FCW that his final day on the job will be Aug. 2.

"I remember when I went to work for the Department of the Navy in 1980, and they told me, 'In 2012, when you turn 55.... you'd be eligible for retirement,' Wennergren said. "And that just seemed like forever. And the next thing you know, the decades have flown by."

"For me it was fairly simple," he explained. "It's been a great ride, I've had jobs that I'd never even dreamed I would've had, and have had some amazing adventures. But, you know, I've sorta climbed the mountains that there were for me to climb here, and I became eligible for retirement. So then it was just a question of timing."

Wennergren is a three-time Federal 100 winner, was honored with FCW's Eagle award in 2006, and has since served as a Fed 100 judge on several occasions. He has won a raft of honors from other organizations in the federal IT community, and has earned repeated commendation from DOD for distinguished and meritorious service. He was also the longest-serving vice-chairman of the Federal CIO council.

Wennergren declined to discuss his next career steps until he officially leaves government service. "I'm going to take some time off, and then plan the next adventure," he said. "I'm trying desperately to get through and close out my federal career before we do the next steps."

That time off leaves a significant gap to fill at DOD, but Wennergren said he was confident in his colleagues' ability to step up.

"I've taken pride over the years of having thought a lot about succession planning and stuff," he said. "At the Department of the Navy, we had a fabulous succession plan in place -- we grew people inside that organization. Dan Porter was the CIO -- he left, I fleeted up to become the CIO. When I left, Rob Carey fleeted up to take my place; I think that kind of stuff is important."

"We've got a good crew here," Wennergren said of the office of the deputy chief management officer, "and there's a growing base of business transformation-savvy people across the Department of Defense. But that will fall to my boss, [Deputy CMO] Beth McGrath, decide what she wants to do now that I'm gone."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 23, 2013 at 8:27 AM1 comments

Congress gets new nominees for Labor IG, DOD personnel posts

Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright, nominated to lead DOD personnel and readiness, spent 35 years in the National Guard.

The Senate's deal to avoid filibusters on nominations may or may not hold, but the White House continues to fill up the pipeline with new appointees.

President Barack Obama on July 19 announced eight more individuals that he intends to nominate to agency or diplomatic posts. Among them are Scott S. Dahl, whom Obama tapped to be the Labor Department's inspector general, and Jessica Garfola Wright, who would become the Defense Department's under secretary for personnel and readiness.

Wright, who spend 35 years in the National Guard and retired as a major general, has been filling the under secretary position in an acting capacity since Jan. 1. Dahl is currently the IG for the Smithsonian Institution. His nomination would fill an important major-agency IG vacancy, but also creates yet another IG opening for the administration to address.

Posted by FCW Staff on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM0 comments

Sisk becomes FAS head

Bill Sisk

Bill Sisk, the new FAS deputy commissioner, has held the position in an acting capacity since last year. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee photo)

Bill Sisk, GSA’s acting federal acquisition service deputy commissioner, has been named the service’s deputy commissioner, the agency confirmed on July 16.

Sisk became acting deputy commissioner in November 2012, taking the position after the previous deputy commissioner, Jon Jordan, retired. Sisk had previously served as the assistant commissioner for FAS’ Office of General Supplies and Services.

Sisk has been at the agency for 23 years, beginning as an intern, working his way up to become the FAS Southeast Sunbelt Region commissioner and the acting Public Buildings Service Southeast Sunbelt Region Commissioner, according to the agency.

FAS has seen a few new faces in the last six months. Tom Sharpe, the current FAS commissioner, came from the Treasury Department in January.

Former FAS commissioner Steve Kempf moved on last fall. Mary Davie, GSA's assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services, served as acting FAS commissioner until Sharpe was named.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:00 PM0 comments

AFCEA to honor Spires

Richard Spires at HOGRC on 022713

Richard Spires resigned in May as DHS CIO. (File photo)

AFCEA's Bethesda Chapter has organized an appreciation event for former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires, who resigned on May 7, for his years of leadership and government service.

The event, which Spires will attend, is scheduled for Monday, July 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Click here to register.)

Spires, who won FCW's Eagle Award this spring, was on leave for two months prior to submitting his resignation, and news of a well-respected federal official in apparent turmoil caused considerable confusion in the federal IT community and led to lots of speculation about the cause.

Many details of Spires' departure remain unclear, but he experienced considerable success over eight years of federal service – four years at the IT helm of DHS, and prior to that four years at the Internal Revenue Service.

"I was surprised and grateful that the federal IT industry would want to recognize me for the work I did at DHS and over the past eight years with the IRS and serving the federal IT community at large," Spires told FCW. "It's very nice."

Spires is still assessing his future, but said he has taken to consulting – on his own, not for a company – in the interim.

"I'm going to consult for a while and I'm definitely using this as a transition time to assess what I want to do next," Spires said. "Consulting is one of those options, and I'm also going to look at full-time opportunities."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM0 comments

Napolitano to leave DHS

Janet Napolitano

DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is about to take the helm at the University of California system. (File photo)

Janet Napolitano announced on July 12 that she is resigning the top spot at the Department of Homeland Security to take of the post of president of the University of California system.

Napolitano, who has served as governor of Arizona and a U.S. Attorney, will be the first woman ever to lead the University of California system. The University of California search was led by former movie industry executive Sherry Lansing. In a statement, Lansing said, "While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university."

President Obama released a statement thanking Napolitano for her service at DHS. "Janet’s portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country. She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values," Obama said.

Napolitano will take start her new job sometime in September, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM0 comments

A great job in government -- so long as you're not in government

help wanted sign

Hey, agency cybersecurity experts -- do you have a proven track record for "directing IT modernization efforts, formulating short and long-range strategic direction, and developing technology policies?" Would you like to be the Internal Revenue Service's next director of cybersecurity operations, earn as much as the vice president, and deliver world-class security for critical IRS systems?

Too bad. Federal employees are not eligible to apply.

The IRS has designated this a "streamlined critical pay position" -- a special category that the agency may apply to up to 40 positions at any one time, in order to fill posts that "require expertise of an extremely high level" and "are critical to the Internal Revenue Service’s successful accomplishment of an important mission."

Special recruiting efforts and higher salaries can be used in such cases, where the agency has determined that no qualified federal employees are available -- and where a standard General Schedule or Senior Executive Service job is unlikely to attract top talent from outside government. As a result, however, feds -- and many former IRS employees -- are eliminated from the start.

There are similar exceptions allowed governmentwide; the Office of Personnel Management can designate up to 800 jobs for "critical position pay." The IRS, however, has its own statutory authority.

And for any private-sector cyber executives who might be interested: it may already be too late. While the IRS advertised the position in the Wall Street Journal as recently as July 8, a recruiter told FCW the agency is no longer actively seeking more applicants.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM0 comments

White House announces new director of presidential personnel

Jonathan McBride

Jonathan McBride, shown here during a 2012 appearance on C-SPAN, will take over as Director of Presidential Personnel.

The White House announced on July 9 that Director of Presidential Personnel Nancy Hogan will be leaving by the end of the month, and will be replaced by Jonathan McBride. McBride currently serves as the Office of Presidential Personnel's deputy director, and is a deputy assistant to the president. A Wharton Business School graduate and former chief strategy for the "employer branding" firm Universum, McBride has been with the administration since 2009.

The Office of Presidential Personnel plays a critical role for agency hiring: Its staff must review and approve all "Schedule C" hires -- political appointments that involve shaping policy or working very closely with key political officials. There are roughly 1,400 such jobs scattered across the executive branch.

"I’m grateful to Nancy for her service, and to Jonathan McBride for agreeing to take her place," President Obama said in the statement announcing the change. "Jonathan has the judgment and the experience to help us continue to move this country forward, and I look forward to working with him in his new role."

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 09, 2013 at 12:28 PM0 comments

Schambach to leave CSC

Pat Schambach

Pat Schambach, who served more than three decades in the government, is retiring from CSC.

Pat Schambach, the longtime agency CIO who is now a vice president and general manager for federal IT contractor CSC, told colleagues on July 2 that he is leaving the firm. Schambach's retirement will become official at the end of August.

"People have often asked me if I missed working for the government," Schambach wrote in an email that was shared with FCW, "and my standard answer has been that all I really miss are the people! Now I'll be saying the same thing about what I miss about CSC."

Schambach, who won FCW's Eagle Award in 2003, spent more than three decades in government service before moving to the private sector; he was the Transportation Security Administration's first CIO, and served in that same capacity for the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After leaving government in 2004, Schambach spent four years with Nortel Government Solutions. He has been with CSC since 2008.

No word yet on Schambach's future plans.

Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 03, 2013 at 8:58 AM0 comments

Know any rising stars? Nominate them today!

Rising Star

The deadline is fast approaching for 2013 Rising Star nominations. The best up-and-comers in the federal IT community deserve to be recognized, but all nominations must be in by midnight on Monday, July 15.

Much like the Federal 100 awards, FCW's Rising Star awards recognizes individuals who go above and beyond their official job descriptions. By focusing on those in the first 10 years of their federal IT careers, however, the judges look for nominees who not only make a real impact, but also have clear potential to grow into positions of greater responsibility in their organizations and in the community at large.

Curious to see who's made the grade in the past? Check out the profiles of last year's winners -- and then be sure to nominate your organization's rising stars while there is still time!

Click here to nominate a rising star.


Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 01, 2013 at 10:53 AM0 comments

The problem in the middle


Posted by John Klossner on Jun 28, 2013 at 5:53 AM0 comments

CIA docs find a home on Amazon

concept art for cloud services

Amazon’s contract to build a private cloud for the CIA is on hold while the agency sorts through the ramifications of a successful bid protest from IBM, which said it could build the cloud for less.

But Amazon is already storing CIA documents -- just not necessarily those the agency would like.

For instance, the New York Times reported on June 26 that four CIA agents were embedded in the New York Police Department in the decade following 9/11, and that one such agent may have spied on U.S. citizens. The article is based on a recently declassified executive summary of a CIA Inspector General’s report from December 2011, which the Times helpfully posted online.

And as the URL makes clear, that document is residing on an Amazon Web Services cloud server.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:47 PM1 comments

A graphic look at federal hiring

Vacancies and staff turnover are seemingly a fact of life for today's agency IT executives. And for senior positions, the hiring hoops can take many forms.

backstory graphic

Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:55 AM0 comments

Cureton's successor picked at NASA

Larry Sweet

Larry Sweet, NASA's new CIO, takes office as the agency is under IG pressure to improve its IT management.

Larry Sweet, a NASA veteran who began his career at the space agency in 1987, will officially take the reins as the agency's CIO on June 30.

Sweet replaces Linda Cureton, who retired in April. NASA's associate deputy administrator Richard Keegan has been acting CIO since Cureton's departure. Sweet has served as the Johnson Space Center's CIO and information resources director since 2007.

Sweet will be responsible for ensuring NASA's information assets are in line with federal policies, procedures and legislation, and he'll also manage several major IT efforts. The most important of those efforts is likely the IT Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P), which will consolidate and integrate NASA's IT contracts to increase collaboration and reduce costs at the agency.

Perhaps more important moving forward, though, is that Sweet will be installed at the same time the agency is supposed to improve IT governance, enhance CIO authority and make fixes to other IT problems that have dogged the agency for decades, according to a June report by NASA's Office of Inspector General.

NASA's decentralized IT operations "hinder the agency's ability to implement effective IT governance," leaving the agency CIO with limited visibility or control over IT investments and unable to enforce security measures across all NASA computers, the IG reported. Of the $1.46 billion allocated for IT in fiscal 2012, the agency CIO had direct control of only $159 million, or about 11 percent.

In 2010, decentralized IT operations and limited CIO control actually caused NASA to overspend on its fiscal 2010 IT budget by $400 million, highlighting the seriousness of the problem.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden concurred or partially concurred with all eight OIG recommendations stemming from the report. They include requiring the CIO to approve all IT procurement expenditures over an established threshold and consolidating overall IT governance within OCIO. All recommendations were due to be addressed within one year.

In his response, presumably written before NASA had selected Sweet for the job, Bolden wrote that NASA would look for candidates who had demonstrated strong governance in their careers to take on these new challenges. Based on Bolden's other statements in response to the OIG criticism, it seems Sweet will have no shortage of work to do when he begins. "I will ask the new CIO to conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing NASA IT governance and the IT organization and recommend any necessary improvements to address the findings in this report," Bolden said.

Sweet and NASA are at least one step ahead of several other agencies, however: the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Personnel Management, Social Security Administration and Departments of Veteran Affairs, Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development are all still searching for their next permanent CIO.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM0 comments

Berry to say 'g'day' to Australia

John Berry

President Obama has nominated former OPM leader John Berry to be ambassador to the land down under. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee photo).

President Obama announced the nomination of John Berry for the post of ambassador to Australia on June 21.

Berry headed the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013. At OPM, Berry will be remembered for working to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of lesbian and gay federal employees where allowable by law, advocating raises for federal employees, pioneering telework and working to reduce the backlog of processing retirement claims while speeding hiring times for federal employees.

Before joining OPM, Berry was the director of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., from 2005 to 2009, and was executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation before that. He also served as a legislative aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Obamam included Berry’s nomination in a group of senior appointments. “These men and women have demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout their careers. I am grateful they have chosen to take on these important roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM0 comments

Deloitte picks new federal consulting leader

Janet Foutty

Janet Foutty, formerly managing director of technology at Deloitte Consulting, is taking over as federal consulting leader. (Photo courtesy of Deloitte)

Deloitte Consulting LLP has appointed Janet Foutty as its new federal consulting leader.

Foutty, who previously served as Deloitte’s managing director of technology, will succeed John Gibbons. Gibbons will serve as a strategic advisor during the transition.

Under Foutty’s two-decade tenure with Deloitte, she successfully launched three businesses in its technology service area: Application Management Services, Customer Solutions and Deloitte Digital. She also helped oversee Deloitte’s acquisition of mobile agency Ubermind in 2012.

"Janet has a tremendous track record of helping improve client results in technology services and financial services,” said Robin Lineberger, CEO of Deloitte Federal Government Services, in a written statement.

“Her leadership and experience will be a great asset to federal agencies as they look for innovative technology solutions to achieve their mission."


Posted by Natalie Lauri on Jun 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM0 comments

A graphic look at GWACs

GWAC backstory

Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM1 comments

EPA CIO heads for private sector

revolving door

Editor's note: This item was modified after its publication to add text from Jackson's email to colleagues and to update other information.

The man behind the Environmental Protection Agency's move to cloud-based email and centralized IT hardware procurement is heading back to the private sector.

EPA Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator in the Office of Environmental Information Malcolm Jackson is leaving the agency after three years of service for a job with an unnamed company, an EPA spokesperson confirmed.

Jackson was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2010. His last day will be July 7, according to an email Jackson sent to colleagues.

"I have enjoyed every moment at EPA immensely and have been so impressed by the passion that you have for your jobs and the agency’s mission," Jackson wrote in that email message. "We have made some great changes together to strengthen OEI and the technology direction of EPA. I hope that you will keep the momentum going and fill the technology gap while ensuring security and quality." 

Jackson's departure means EPA joins six other major agencies searching for a permanent CIO, including NASA, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security. It is not yet clear who will step in as EPA's acting CIO, because the agency does not have a permanent deputy CIO. Acting Deputy CIO Renee Wynn, a 21-year agency veteran, will step in as acting CIO.

At EPA, Jackson was responsible for IT operations and security, information quality and collection and access to environmental information. Prior to his three years at EPA, he served as the senior IT business unit director at CIGNA Group Insurance and at various other IT and engineering positions in the private sector.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM1 comments

The truth of digital strategies

cartoon private sector

Posted by John Klossner on Jun 17, 2013 at 5:58 AM0 comments

Author: NSA snooping is example of 'present shock'

Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff says that 'present shock' is caused by the interconnectivity of social media and other technology. (Photo by New America Foundation)

There are privacy and national-security considerations in the debate over the National Security Agency's digital surveillance. But according to author and digital literacy advocate Douglas Rushkoff, the NSA flap is also case of an agency biting off more than it can chew.

Speaking June 11 at the New America Foundation, Rushkoff said, "In terms of total surveillance control and all that, it's dark. I mean, I think what happened to government now is government's in 'present shock.' Government says 'look, Facebook has all this big data, they can predict when someone's going to get pregnant.'... So they end up employing the technology automatically. "

The NSA is not alone in using technology while lacking a full understanding of it, and without the ability to utilize it efficiently, Rushkoff said.

His new book, "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now", argues that priorities of the moment dominate most people's lives because of the interconnectivity of current technology. In order to curb this "present shock," society must invest in future priorities and stop being chronically distracted by technology such as social media. (The book's title is an apparent play on "Future Shock," the 1970 bestseller by futurist Alvin Toffler.)

"We are twice removed from the operating system," Rushkoff said. "We're once removed in that we don't understand the technology, and then we're twice removed in that we think that the institutional bias can't be changed."

Posted by Reid Davenport on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments

Successor found for Kathleen Turco at GSA

Anne Rung - photo courtesy of Commerce Department

GSA Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung will replace Kathleen Turco as head of Office of Governmentwide Policy.

The General Services Administration has a new leader for its Office of Governmentwide Policy. GSA acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced in an all-staff email that Anne Rung would replace Kathleen Turco. Effective June 16, Turco will become the Veterans Health Administration's chief financial officer.

Rung, who won a Federal 100 award for her accomplishments at the Commerce Department, had been GSA's chief acquisition officer since April 2012. Federal News Radio first reported Tangherlini's announcement about her new role, which will be in addition to her duties as CAO for the agency.

Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments

You too can store data like the NSA

concept cybersecurity art

The stories keep coming about the National Security Agency gathering digital metadata on a massive scale, focusing most Americans on the balancing act between privacy and national security. Agency IT leaders, however, could be forgiven for also asking, "How do they organize all that data?"

As luck would have it, NSA Technical Director Neal Ziring went into some detail on that very question in a recent webinar.

In a May 30 presentation produced by 1105 Government Events (which is owned by the same parent company as FCW), Ziring outlined the NSA's approach to data security. "We are well past the model where you say 'everyone who can log on on this computer can gain access to