Longtime federal IT leader is retiring from government service Oct. 31.
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."
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