Malia works behind the scenes, coordinating CIO Council efforts

Malia works behind the scenes, coordinating CIO Council efforts

Shirley A. Malia says working on year 2000 has given her 'experience with the best of how the government works.'

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

Few people have been as focused on the looming new year as Shirley A. Malia, chairwoman of the Chief Information Officers Council's Year 2000 Committee. Yet she readily admits she was a latecomer.

'I'm a convert to the process,' said Malia, who recently moved from her post as the Labor Department's deputy CIO to a new job at the Commerce Department.

'In my files, I have an initial comment paper [from about three years ago] that the Labor Department isn't going to have a problem with Y2K,' she said. But department officials ultimately decided otherwise, and Labor ended up spending $62.6 million on year 2000 work.

Malia has been a key figure in one of the largest, most expensive information technology efforts ever.

But her role on the Year 2000 Committee was often more behind-the-scenes than that of Kathleen Adams, who was co-chairwoman of the panel until this fall, when she left her senior systems post at the Social Security Administration to join the private sector.

Malia, a career government employee, has been involved in the year 2000 effort since October 1997, when federal, state and local government officials met at a CIO summit in Pittsburgh.

Technical matters

Malia developed the committee's federal-state year 2000 policy and worked with its technical subcommittees.

'I've really enjoyed working on the Y2K issue,' she said. 'I've forged relationships with industry leaders and local government officials. I've had personal experience with the best of how the government works.'

Malia acknowledged that the date change will spark mixed feelings in those who have worked hard on the problem.

'When you're that involved in a project and you see it coming to fruition, you're going to have a dichotomy of feelings,' she said. 'I'm glad to see the rollover occur' but she will miss the crucial work, she said.

Unlike many people who have worked on year 2000 projects, Malia already knows her next move. Last month she moved to Commerce's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, where she will spearhead a new program that will give college students tuition grants in exchange for government service.

As Labor deputy CIO, Malia was responsible for implementing the IT Management Reform Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act at the department. Until the move to Commerce, she had spent her entire career at Labor, all in systems management jobs.

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