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FCW Insider: Honoring Harty and Lee

I got a note from... how do we say it, a senior procurement official, who sent this along to me and a few other people. I thought it was remarkable enough that others should see it -- regardless of who wrote it.

On March 3, 2008, two of my good friends are retiring from government on the same day and they are two exceptional leaders and role models for me and others. I just thought you all should know about this being an unfortunate day for government because of the coincidental departure of Maura Harty and Dee Lee.

First, you all know Deidre Lee, or Dee, and I am sure you all know her history as the head of NASA Procurement, where I first met her, then, head of all DOD procurement, then the head of all federal government procurement policy as the Administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at OMB, then at GSA as an Assistant Commissioner in the old Federal Technology Service, and last as the Director of Management and Chief Acquisition Officer at FEMA within DHS. Dee has not only been an exceptional leader in all of her jobs, but she has been a great voice for the acquisition community everywhere she has been. She is well-liked and respected by everyone who knows her and by thousands more who have not had the specific pleasure yet of getting to know her. I don't expect to see another person ever who will have been a leader at NASA, DOD, GSA, DHS, and a political appointee leader of OFPP, with a comet's trail of successful experiences, and the government, the taxpayers, her employees and co-workers are so much better simply because of Dee.

Second, Ambassador Maura Harty, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, at the State Department. Maura's last job was one of the toughest in government, but nothing new to Maura. She was appointed to this position by Secretary Colin Powell and here she was responsible for all visa and passport processing worldwide. This job, after 9/11, became even more critical and the criticism came even though she properly balanced in State's words, "Keeping America's Doors Open, and Our Borders Secure." She had previously been the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay in one of her jobs, and held top positions in other parts of the world, including dangerous places like Bogota, Colombia.  She is widely acknowledged as a great leader and one who will make the tough decisions and whom all employees are proud to work under her leadership.  You may have seen her last year testifying by herself and accepting the responsibility for all problems caused by delays in getting new passports. This huge demand for passports was not caused by Maura, but she did receive kudos while being grilled for, nevertheless, accepting responsibility. The security improvements she directed to the new e-passport, the security improvements she directed to add biometrics to visa processing while aligning with US-VISIT and delivering new State information to DHS officers at our borders were all overwhelming successes. The new e-Passport is a beautiful work of art reflecting wonderful scenes of America as well as, I believe, over 600 new security features and meets all international standards, even though this was not required by law.  It was done by Maura to show America wanted to be a leader and in step with these international standards that were required of some of our closest allies, but not required for us.  She ensured that America remained a country that sent a message that we were open for legitimate travelers, but not to people w ho want to do us harm. When people said we needed to share information across systems and across departments and agencies after 9/11 for homeland security purposes, Maura was one of the key leaders and voices that made this happen in the right way.  She is a huge loss for State, all consulates worldwide, other departments and agencies, all travelers coming or seeking to come to America and taxpayers. 

Both of these women are leaders of the highest class and I am sure they have had to overcome many obstacles being women leaders for decades. What defines them now is they have both been great for America. They have, in their last jobs, also helped DHS…achieve successes that happened because of their leadership, partnership, and friendship with people all over the nation and the world, including me. They are both people you like immediately, respect immensely, and want to serve with in any endeavor. They are my friends and I spoke with both today. It made me feel great because they both said it was not going to be a good bye when they left government and that we would stay friends.

I am not sure why I am sending this to you…other than I thought because I know how much you all care about our government, that this was something that seemed like a doubly sad day for all of us, and maybe newsworthy. I know Dee's departure has been reported, but her departure combined with Maura's just seemed to compel me to send this to you all. Thanks for reading this.

FCW wrote an editorial about Lee soon after her announcement that she was going to be retiring. Unfortunately I don't know Harty, but, frankly, I will trust this person's instincts.

And, frankly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Feb 22, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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