CDC's Seligman wins Federal 100 President's Award

Longtime CIO suggests that all his agency peers deserve recognition for the 'tremendous difficulties' they face.

Jim Seligman

Jim Seligman accepts the President's Award at the 2013 Federal 100 Awards gala. (FCW photo)

The longest-serving CIO in government has been recognized for his leadership in the federal IT community.

At FCW's Federal 100 gala, Jim Seligman, CIO at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was given a special President’s Award for his years of leadership in the federal IT community.

Although Seligman’s nearly 15-year tenure as CIO is nothing short of remarkable, the recognition was not just about longevity or staying out of the line of fire, though he joked during his acceptance speech that the award now makes him a target for overzealous oversight types looking for a trophy takedown.

Seligman said he was able to roll with the IT punches – tough budgets, advancing technologies and the like – thanks to the support of excellent IT staffs at the CDC and its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and with the support of his wife of 36 years, who put up with Seligman’s sometimes highly demanding schedule.

"I accept this award on behalf of all other CIOs and the tremendous difficulties they face," said Seligman, who added that he felt humbled to be singled out for such recognition given the significant accomplishments of his peers.

Yet Seligman’s efforts as a CIO have been large in scale and in results. He consistently managed large numbers of people – 500 government staff and nearly 1,000 contractors – and $500 million in fiscal IT resources.

Seligman also contributed significantly in advancing CDC’s programs, resulting indirectly in improved quality of life for all Americans. In many ways, IT systems directly determine the capability and effectiveness of agency missions, and Seligman said collaboration amongst private industry, academia and feds allowed technology to improve health and prevent disease.

Before stepping into the CDC CIO role in 1999, Seligman served as director of the Information Resources Management Office -- the CDC's Central Information Technology and Systems Office. The office was in charge of providing agencywide information processing, telecommunications, information systems, networking, data center operations, and information center support services.

Even earlier, Seligman was deputy director serving as the principal management official of CDC's IRM office when it launched in 1985. Prior to that, he worked in CDC's Washington Office assisting in legislation and policy coordination. That position led him to take a one-year assignment in Congress.

As CDC CIO, Seligman has been in charge of three technology offices: the Information Technology Services Office, Management Information Systems Office, and Management Analysis and Services Office. He has also provided leadership for CDC’s overall IT program including IT architecture, IT capital investment management, policy and standards development, information security, IT workforce development, and other enterprise activities.

He also serves on the HHS CIO Council and the HHS Information Technology Investment Review Board.

Before concluding his acceptance speech, Seligman said he doesn’t plan on slowing down yet, even after 15 years as a CIO. "People come up and tell me, 'I thought you retired,'" he joked. "But I haven't taken the hint."

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