Renny DiPentima reflects on his 44-year-career in government and industry as he prepares step into retirement July 1.
Renato “Renny” DiPentima is one of the people in this community who can legitimately be called a legend and a leader. After 33 years in senior government posts, mostly at the Social Security Administration, DiPentima retired into industry, joining SRA International for the past 12 years. “I only had to change one letter from SSA to SRA,” he said.
Earlier this month, DiPentima stepped down as SRA’s president and chief executive officer. He is being replaced by Stanton Sloane, who had been executive vice president of integrated systems and solutions at Lockheed Martin.
We spoke to DiPentima about retirement, his career and his view of government information technology today.
FCW: What does Renny do in retirement?
DiPentima: I’ll probably be working pretty close to full time from now to the end of June. We really want this to be a textbook transition...Then, starting July 1, I’m really going to have a flexible schedule.
FCW: What are the highlights of your 44-year career?
DiPentima: The nice thing is I never felt like I left the federal government. I felt, in both instances, I was giving something back — contributing to my country and contributing to my community. I think I’ve been able to help government understand industry and industry understand government.
FCW: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in 44 years?
DiPentima: One big change is the whole insertion of IT into the way we do business. It’s really changed everything. At [the] Social Security [Administration], everything was done on paper. Information only moved as fast as paper. The only people who could help you were the people who had the paper. And only one person could help you at a time.
IT changed all of that. It brought online, interactive, immediate access to information. It was revolutionary.
Another big change was acquisition reform. It had an immense impact on government IT. I wish I could have managed under the acquisition reform rules that came in the mid-1990s. We could not have accomplished the downsizing that occurred in government without acquisition reform. We had to be able to substitute IT for the loss of people. We had to make the people who were still there more productive. Under the old rules, every acquisition was 18- to 24-months, two or three protests, and agencies rarely ended up with what they needed. Acquisition reform was a real hallmark of progress.
I know some folks want to change that now. They’re well meaning and maybe some of them will end up being positive changes, but for the most part, acquisition reform has been a terrific asset to government.