GSA's Ortego takes NFC director post

John Ortego is the new director of the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center
in New Orleans.

Ortego, deputy assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration for
Information Technology Integration, will assume his duties later this month. Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman cited Ortego's experience in devising innovative IT procurement
initiatives--such as the pending seat management contract for desktop computing services
contract--as key in his appointment.

GSA has not named Ortego's replacement.

NFC has been without a permanent director for more than a year and a half.

The former director, Conrad "Fritz" Newsom, retired from the post in January
1996. Since then, John W. Hall, director of NFC's Financial Services Division, has been
the acting director.

NFC is one of the government's largest multiagency data processing operations. Working
under USDA's chief financial officer, NFC handles payroll systems for the departments of
Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Treasury, manages the $40 billion Federal Retirement
Thrift Savings Plan and runs central accounting systems for another 30 agencies.

A Louisiana native, Ortego said he is looking forward to applying his knowledge of IT
fee-for-service programs to a large interagency business enterprise.

"It's a return home and a major career opportunity," Ortego said. "I'm
an auditor by training. But I have managed a data center and been involved with
fee-for-service operations."

Ortego joins NFC just as many agencies are scrambling to meet the Office of Management
and Budget's directives to consolidate data centers and eliminate duplicative financial
and administrative systems.

As a member of the federal data center consolidation committee and architect of GSA's
virtual data center contract, Ortego knows the government's data processing needs and
could help NFC capture an even larger share of agency administrative processing work.

"I would distinguish it from a data center. It's a major finance center with
computers as a significant resource but ancillary to the core mission," Ortego said.

"I will remain very active with IT issues. But I'm looking forward to becoming
more involved on the financial side," he said.

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