USDA's Anne Thomson Reed focuses on human resources in accepting award

For Anne Thomson Reed, managing people in an increasingly technological age is a
tougher challenge than the technology itself.

“We need to start thinking about developing the next generation of information
technology employees,” said the Agriculture Department chief information officer. And
the techno-savvy people increasingly in demand need to be seen not as nerds, but as the
change agents they are, she told some 1,000 government IT and vendor officials who
gathered last month at the annual GCN Awards Banquet in Washington.

Reed received GCN’s 1998 government executive of the year award for her
distinguished record at Navy and Agriculture.

At USDA, the fourth-largest federal agency, she supervises the design, acquisition,
maintenance and use of IT by Agriculture agencies. She oversees an annual IT budget of
more than $1 billion.

In her acceptance speech, Reed did not talk about Agriculture’s business process
re-engineering or the development of a common computing environment for the
department’s 2,500 service centers—projects that have taken much of her time and
generated their share of controversy.

Instead, she talked about the idea of people as resources and how technology should
help people better manage information and provide services.

“We all need to think about how technology can best be used in support of the
public,” Reed said. “The pace of change is fast. Our challenge is to help people
work through the change.”

As an example of how pervasive technology is becoming, she cited the internal
body-temperature sensor that Sen. John Glenn swallowed for data gathering during his trip
aboard NASA’s space shuttle.

Reed also thanked her colleagues at Agriculture, saying, “I work with a wonderful
group of people.”

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman named Reed CIO in August 1996. She previously served
as USDA’s deputy assistant secretary for administration.

Reed began her federal service at the Naval Sea Systems Command. She received the
Navy’s Meritorious Service award in 1987 while working in the office of the
comptroller of the Navy secretariat.

“This is truly a special honor for me,” Reed said of the award.
“I’m overwhelmed.”   

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