Cohen will face IT leadership void at Defense

Now that William Cohen has cleared the congressional confirmation gauntlet, one of his
first jobs as Defense secretary will be filling an information technology management void.


The Defense Department soon will lose its two senior systems chiefs, Emmett Paige Jr.
and Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds. It is an ironic fate for Cohen, who last year as a senator
crafted the most sweeping federal IT management reform legislation in 30 years.


Edmonds told his staff last week that he plans to step down as director of the Defense
Information Systems Agency and retire. And last month, Paige, assistant secretary of
Defense for command, control, communications and information, announced that he also will
retire this year.


Paige has said he will stay on as DOD's chief information officer until the department
has selected his successor [GCN, Jan. 13, Page 58]. It was unclear at press time how long
Edmonds would remain at DISA.


''I don't know when the boss plans to leave, so I can't say who will act in his
place,''DISA spokeswoman Betsy McDonald told GCN.


Edmonds made his announcement during a regular morning staff briefing with the comment,
''I'm punching out.''


Army Maj. Gen. David J. Kelley, DISA's vice director, is in line to serve as acting
director if Edmonds goes before a successor is named. Senior Defense Department brass will
select a new DISA director from a pool of candidates nominated by the services.


Edmonds took over as DISA director and manager of the National Communications System in
1994. During his tenure, he led DOD's upgrade of its communications and systems
infrastructure.


In his two years as head of DISA, Edmonds has promoted data standardization and the
Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment--two difficult,
long-term goals for making DOD systems interoperable. On several occasions, Edmonds has
said for interoperability initiatives to succeed, DOD must enforce mandatory use of the
Defense Data Repository System and the DII COE.


Before joining DISA, Edmonds served in Washington as the Joint Staff's director of
command, control, communications and computer systems.


Edmonds entered the Air Force in 1964. He began his technical career as a data systems
officer in tactical communications at Langley Air Force Base, Va.


Edmonds served at communications posts in Hawaii, Thailand, Guam and Florida before
coming to Washington.


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