Cooper expects that future will be bright in federal IT arena

Cooper expects that future will be bright in federal IT arena

CSC's Milton Cooper says that federal employees and vendors must be vigilant to uphold 'the highest standards of integrity and trust.'

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

Milton E. Cooper, GCN's 1999 industry executive of the year, is bullish on the government technology market.

'We view the federal marketplace as a robust, vital and growing market that will be receptive to the newest advances in technology,'' said Cooper, president of Computer Sciences Corp.'s federal sector, after receiving his industry executive of the year award. 'We see a government system that is receptive, and we see government executives who are receptive.''

Partner principle

For Cooper, industry partnerships with government are crucial to meeting the information technology challenges that lie ahead. But he said he also believes those partnerships have to be based on certain fundamental values, including integrity and trust.

'It is absolutely vital that we maintain the highest standards of integrity and trust,'' he said.

In his acceptance speech, Cooper said, 'We have the tools today through enabling legislation and through policy from the administration to forge and keep those partnerships strong.''

But he added a word of caution.

'Many of you were around as I was in the mid-'80s during the procurement scandal period, the so-called Ill Wind Era, in which a truly tiny number of people in government and in the private sector violated the trust that had been vested in them,'' he said.

'The Procurement Integrity Act of 1988, which followed, built barriers between us and effectively terminated our ability to partner and to bring systems effectively to the American people.''

The procurement reforms of recent years have revived government and industry partnerships.

No going back

To guard against turning back the clock, 'We have to personally commit ourselves every day not to jeopardize this wonderful opportunity we currently have to do things together,'' he said. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Cooper is a 37-year veteran of the technology industry.

He began his career in 1963 as sales engineer with IBM Corp., becoming administrative assistant to the president of the company's General Systems Division. He later had stints with Telex Corp. and Raytheon Data Systems before joining CSC in 1984.

He became CSC federal sector president in 1992. Cooper oversees two operating groups and a staff of 17,000 in a division that generates $1.7 billion annually in revenues.

Cooper also is chairman of the board of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a nonprofit organization that encourages cooperation among agencies, the military and industry.

One of the biggest challenges for government, Cooper said, will be determining how to privatize and outsource technologies in ways that fairly serve government, industry and, particularly, civil service personnel.

'We believe the government is focused on that, but working through those issues is probably going to be very difficult,'' he said. 'But we believe it's doable.''

Cooper described the technological opportunities on the horizon for government and industry as incredible'in the strict dictionary-definition sense of the word.

'I looked it up because I like that definition,'' he said. 'Incredible means too extraordinary to be possible.''

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