As a black-tie crowd of government and industry IT luminaries gathered at the GCN Awards Gala, common themes were teamwork, public service and the important contributions of the younger generation.
The importance of teamwork was a common theme expressed by government IT and industry executives honored at the 24th annual GCN Awards Gala, Oct. 19.
The black-tie crowd packed the ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in McLean, Va., and heard award winners talk about the importance of public service and the role IT plays in serving citizens and soldiers.
Richard Spires, winner of the Civilian IT Executive of the Year, summed up the vital role team work plays in the success of agency IT projects during his remarks.
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“I’m being recognized as an individual, and that is very nice. But it is all about teamwork, isn’t it? To do the things we do takes tremendous teamwork,” Spires said, acknowledging two GCN Awards projects that he has been involved in over the years, the Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight Program and Internal Revenue Service’s Modernized e-File.
Spires, the Homeland Security Department’s CIO, has served in the past as the IRS’ CIO, noted that although he has spent more than 20 years in the private sector, his years as a government employee have been special.
“I actually love my job. I don’t know a lot of people who can say that. But I do love my job,” Spires said, noting that whenever he speaks to young people he urges them to give back some time in public service in any way they choose to give it.
Spires also acknowledged the Class of 2011 Rising Stars, who were honored at the Gala. The Rising Stars, which honor young government employees, is an awards program by GCN's sister publication, Federal Computer Week.
“I really like these awards because we recognize the younger people,” Spires said, noting that he has had the pleasure of working with a number of them. “It is a real pleasure to see that next generation to grow. It makes you really feel like we’re really going to be OK as a country,” Spires said.
Van Hitch, inductee to the GCN Hall of Fame after a long, distinguished career in government, spanning over four decades, echoed that sentiment.
“I’m very pleased to be a part of an event that recognizes not just the old folks like me, but the up-and-coming people in our federal government who work tirelessly on behalf of our country,” said Hitch, who retired from the Justice Department this year after serving nine years as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and CIO. “It is encouraging to know that the federal government is going to be in good hands in the future.”
Hitch, who was instrumental in promoting information sharing and cybersecurity while at DOJ, said: “I am a firm believer in public service and the nobility of public service.”
“It is a very honorable and critical profession for our country,” Hitch said, noting that the best and brightest people in government and the contract community were being honored at the Gala.
Industry IT Executive of the Year S. Daniel Johnson, president of General Dynamics Information Technology, recognized that he was receiving an individual award but accepted it on behalf of the employees of GDIT. “Their hard work and outstanding results have gotten us where we are today,” he said.
Johnson noted that he has seen a tremendous amount of change in the marketplace during his 40 years of federal service, including the move from an era of “adversarial relationships to one of partnership” with the federal government; as well as the move “from a contract support role to one of providing high-technology, value-added service and solutions that make a difference.”
Defense IT Executive of the Year, Lt. General William Lord, Chief of Warfighting Integration and CIO of the Air Force, acknowledged the role of his team, the other services and industry in helping him to achieve success. He also provided some humor to the night.
“We stand on the shoulders of lots of people. This is really a team sport,” Lord, said, adding that he didn’t want to admit, while in the presence of mathematicians from the National Institute of Standards and Technology who had won a GCN Award, that he got a C in math while at the Air Force Academy.
“I represent a small team at the Pentagon. My nephew calls that an octagon; he’s not doing well in math, either,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience. “Uncle Bill, how is it going at the Octagon?”
“To be able to have a C student from the Air Force Academy, who graduated from a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania, get this kind of recognition is because there are a lot of smart people that got me here,” he said. “I work with them everyday.”
The teamwork theme also extended to the winners of the 10 Agency Awards given to project teams at the federal, state and local levels. Boston CIO Bill Oates, who led the city’s award-winning Citizens Connect program, even extended it to the users.
Citizens Connect team members were prevented from attending because of weather and mechanical problems with their scheduled flight, but Oates sent comments to GCN. “This award goes to many team members across the city — including our constituents that helped design Citizens Connect,” Oates wrote. “It truly is a ‘public-public’ partnership.”
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