So long, Emmett

If he disliked something, he let you know in no uncertain terms. I found this out after
running an editorial cartoon he didn't like.


Paige was also decisive. In one recent lightning move, he canceled a $350 million
procurement the Defense Information Systems Agency had planned for the Defense Department
megacenters before the ink on the draft solicitation had dried.


In Paige's view, the DISA buy didn't support the long-term goal of consolidating
megacenters and outsourcing some functions. The result? It was gone by sundown.


Yet he didn't hold grudges. Some officials would have penalized the beat reporter by
being unavailable if they didn't like an editorial. But throughout a brief beef with me,
he communicated openly with our DOD reporter, even forwarding occasional e-mail messages
he thought newsworthy.


No doubt it was this combination of qualities-decisiveness, speaking clearly and not
taking things personally, together with a dose of old-fashioned bluster-that took him in
his military career from a buck private to lieutenant general. And, make no mistake, he
understood the technologies he oversaw and the missions they supported.


So it was with characteristic candor that Paige made his exit from DOD last Friday to
return to his job as president of OAO Corp. Paige expressed disappointment at how little
he felt he had accomplished, especially in establishing agencywide standard systems for
payroll and personnel, and in resolving DOD's financial problem of matching receipts with
disbursements.


But Paige should be satisfied with what he did do. DISA successfully switched on the
Global Command and Control System and established the Common Operating Environment. The
Defense Message System, while not complete, has moved beyond the idea stage. Data center
consolidation, also incomplete, is far ahead of where it was four years ago.


Finally, Paige has been an outspoken conscience for DOD in its need to get control of
crucial systems. In short, he's been a credit to DOD and to his office. He says he'll
still keep an eye on things and let his former colleagues know when they're going astray.


No doubt he will.


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