Sandra Borden

Sandra Borden is project manager for the Coast Guard's Ports and Waterways Safety System.

Responsibilities: Borden is project manager for the Coast Guard's Ports and Waterways Safety System (PAWSS), a program that enables Coast Guard officials to detect, identify and track vessels.

What makes her a good program manager: "Sandra is on top of her game," said her former boss, Capt. George Molessa, who recently retired as deputy assistant commandant for acquisition. She is bright and well-read, keeps abreast of changes in technology standards, is involved with many information technology and standards groups, understands the ins and outs of contracting, learns quickly and is extremely personable, Molessa said. Some people try to find ways not to do something, he added, but "she and her staff try to go out and tackle the issues and do what they need to do to keep moving forward."

How she got the job: Borden started her career with the Navy, where she got her feet wet in IT. She moved to the Coast Guard and in 1992 became deputy project manager for the Vessel Traffic Services Project Office. Later, she served as deputy project manager for PAWSS. In 2000, she became the first civilian project manager in the Coast Guard.

Best advice received about program management: For Borden, experience has been the best teacher. "In one sense, you don't receive advice," she said. "You learn a lot from experience." However, she has benefited from her work with members of the governmentwide Information Technology Acquisition Review Board. "That is probably my best source of information," she said, "being in with the cream of the crop."

Best lesson learned on the job: Borden has learned quite a few lessons, such as know your stakeholders and control your requirements. But one lesson stands out: educating the senior managers in charge of IT projects. "They try to get smart in technology when a project goes bad," she said. "They need to use their management skills."

NEXT STORY: DOD seeks net-centric programs

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