Fascinating rhythm at GCN 2005 awards gala

That stomping noise that emanated from the GCN Awards Gala last night wasn't just the syncopated dancing of the Street Beats performers, who entertained the more than 1,000 federal and industry guests.

It was also the rhythm of the innovative spirit of the 10 agency award winners and the four executives of the year, who 'move to the beat of their own drum,' said Tom Temin, PostNewsweek Tech Media's senior vice president and editor in chief.

Spicing up the traditional, somber black-tie color scheme were splashes of red, white and blue'from the huge American flag backdrop on stage to the bow tie worn by James Williams, director of the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Visit program and the winner of the civilian executive of the year award.

It was also Williams' 20th wedding anniversary. He thanked PostNewsweek for 'saving me. I didn't have any time to plan an intimate dinner.' Williams, looking over at his wife, said: 'So honey, this is it. Please enjoy it.'

Williams also thanked Charles Rossotti, winner of this year's GCN Hall of Fame award, and described his legendary powers of persuasion. During Rossotti's tenure as IRS commissioner, he met with Williams to try to convince him to take a job in IT. Williams went into the meeting with Rossotti and said, 'I'm here to say no.' Forty minutes later, Williams was saying, 'I'll take the hill for you, sir. Where is it?'

U.S. Visit has 'stopped 875 bad guys' thus far, Williams said. It's been an effective way for the nation to 'welcome the good people and stop the bad.'

Eighteen months into his job as Navy CIO, Defense executive of the year David Wennergren heard that the average life span of a CIO was 18 months. He thought that was way too short. 'I'm having a lot of fun,' he said. 'I have small children to send to college.'

Three years have gone by 'in the blink of an eye,' Wennergren said, and added that every day he is inspired by 'young men and women who have chosen service and sacrifice.'

Industry executive of the year Robert Stevens said he was 'humbled' by the award, as he couldn't get his BlackBerry to work. Stevens, Lockheed Martin president and CEO, talked about the promises of technology, and ended on a serious note: 'The global war on terror is real, and it must and it will be won.'

The newest member of the GCN Hall of Fame, Rossotti'who founded American Management Systems Inc. (now CGI-AMS) in 1970'received the award for a 'lifetime of service and his substantial contribution to government IT,' Temin said. Now senior adviser to the Carlyle Group of Washington, Rossotti spoke of the 'success we have had in using technology to make the government work as effectively as it does.'

Adjourning to the dessert reception, the jam-packed crowd unwound over the Washington Hilton's reliably terrific assortment of desserts.

'It was a delightful evening,' said Keith Thurston, assistant to the deputy associate administrator in the Office of Information Technology at the General Services Administration. 'There's few times when you get to enjoy chatting with folks and it's not strictly business-related.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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