Wyatt Kash | The marks of leadership

Editor's Desk | Commentary: Leaders and projects that made a difference

Wyatt Kash

This week, GCN's 20th Annual Awards Gala pays tribute to the agencies and executives who won this year's awards for outstanding achievement. Since their inception, these awards have come to signify the significant contributions, innovations and advances agency information technology leaders and project teams have made in helping government staffs better serve the U.S. public through improved IT.

The 12 winning project teams selected this year developed inspired solutions in the face of distinct challenges. Some, such as a new teleconferencing system in Oakland County, Michigan, were modest in scale yet produced dramatic
improvements in government operations. Other programs were massive in scope and complexity. Such was the case with the much-needed consolidated accounting system implemented at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which
administers care for 92 million Americans and accounts for 34 cents of every dollar spent on health care.

What the leaders of those and other winning projects demonstrated most was a willingness to take risks, passion to think outside of the box, talent for collaborative leadership, and competence that isn't always appreciated when the world thinks of government IT. Those trademarks are also what distinguished GCN's Executives of the Year ' Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, the General Services
Administration's John Johnson, the Army's Kevin Carroll and Qwest
Communication's Diana Gowen ' and our Hall of Fame choices, Ira Hobbs and Steve Kelman. Their stories are in the pages of the Oct. 8 issue of GCN and on GCN.com.

Speaking of talented individuals, many come and go in government IT; some leave important legacies. Richard Burk, who retired last month as chief architect at the Office of E-Government and Information Technology, will be remembered as one of government's most articulate voices for aligning IT with the business goals and missions of each agency.

Building on the efforts of Bob Haycock and Norm Lorentz, Burk became a respected champion of enterprise architecture as a tool for improving agency performance.
'I think half to three-quarters of the agencies are still trapped in what I call the IT ghetto, where they see EA only in IT terms,' Burk told GCN's sister publication, Federal Computer Week, in August.

With no direct staff and dwindling budgets, Burk nevertheless elevated the role and stature of EA in government and deserves credit for doing so. We wish his replacement, Kshemendra Paul, comparable success.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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