Michael Butler: Leading from experience

When GSA needed help with the technical aspects of HSPD-12, the agency recruited Michael Butler from the Defense Department, where secure credentialing was nothing new.

When the General Services Administration needed help with the technical aspects of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, the agency found its person in Mike Butler.The HSPD-12 presidential mandate stipulates that government employees and contractors must carry interoperable smart cards as proof of their identity. HSPD-12 is a complex mandate, so Butler temporarily left the Defense Department in mid-2006, where he was chief of smart card programs and operations, and moved to GSA.He worked a six-month stint as the agency’s governmentwide implementation manager for HSPD-12. In GSA’s Managed Services Office, Butler provided technical support and established guidelines for agencies to implement the new identity credentialing system based on smart cards and the HSPD-12 standard.“I understood the technical wheels,” Butler said. “That’s kind of what I added to the mix.”GSA’s Managed Services Office was set up to be a shared provider of cards that complied with HSPD-12 cards, and its officials needed Butler’s help. “We agreed to let [Butler] go to GSA for six months, despite the fact that we were in the throes of implementing HSPD-12 ourselves,” said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center. “We recognized that what was needed was someone who understood what it took to implement a secure credentialing system.”Butler’s DOD work meant he was no rookie at managing a computer-readable identification card program. As chief of smart card programs and operations, he has responsibility for program management and worldwide implementation of DOD’s Common Access Card (CAC) program. DOD delivered nearly 11 million smart cards to members of the military and civilian employees in the past few years.Butler’s experience with the CAC program and knowledge of smart card standards made him a major asset to GSA as the agency established its HSPD-12 Managed Services Office.“He displayed a unique understanding of what had to be done and how to do it in order to field an operational HSPD-12 system,” said Carol Bales, a policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget. Under HSPD-12, agencies were required to issue a single, interoperable personal identification card by October 2006, so the challenge for Butler was time. When he went to GSA, the Managed Services Office had recently tapped BearingPoint as its contractor, and only two months remained until the October deadline.Butler quickly went to work setting up workstations and gathering necessary equipment for issuing the HSPD-12 cards. In the end, the office met its goal of issuing interoperable credentials to 40 client agencies on or before the deadline.“[It] was just an amazing accomplishment,” Butler said. And when Butler reflects on the whirlwind experience with co-workers at GSA, he wonders, “How did we ever do that?”
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