Space center IT chief takes industry job

Space center IT chief takes industry job

The government does not need to own all its equipment, John Garman says.

After a 34-year career at NASA, Johnson CIO Garman will work for government contractor OAO

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

High-level government information technology personnel continue to take their experience and expertise to the private sector.

John R. Garman, who was chief information officer at Johnson Space Center in Houston, started a new job last month with OAO Corp. of Greenbelt, Md. Jean E.Carter, who took over as deputy IT security officer last year, is the new CIO at Johnson.

In December, the Agriculture Department announced the retirement of CIO Anne F. Thomson Reed. She left last week for a position with Electronic Data Systems Corp. Joseph Leo took over the department's top IT spot Feb. 1.

Bruce McConnell, who headed the International Year 2000 Cooperation Center after a long career at the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is heading to the private sector, too.

The departures are not just from senior IT posts at civilian agencies, either. A passel of Defense Department systems officials also have left their jobs or will leave shortly (see story, Page 38).

Garman, after 34 years with NASA, is following his compass on a path he says government should take.

At OAO, Garman will work with government organizations that are outsourcing systems work to industry.

'I'm extremely interested in outsourcing,' said Garman. 'If an operation is not core to what a business or entity does, then they need to consider pushing outsourcing.'

OAO holds a number of NASA's outsourcing contracts, said Emmett Paige, president and chief operating officer of the aerospace information systems business.

Two targets

The 26-year-old company targets enterprise and IT outsourcing as its core business areas, Paige said.

The company has several contracts with NASA for work at the Johnson, Kennedy and Stennis space centers and the Marshall Space Flight Center, he said.

In government, outsourcing tends to pit those who fear the security risks against those who see it as a money-saving management technique.

'It is extremely important to get the most bang for the buck,' Garman said. 'It's a shame to take the best people and have them worry about standard issues.'

NASA's best minds should be allowed to concentrate on core matters dealing with mission-critical operations, he said.

At Johnson and 'across the agency, computing is everywhere,' Garman said. But he noted that in most essential operations, the number of computers needed is usually small. 'Government has had a lot of difficulty with the notion of not owning all the equipment and, likewise, having in the government world what is basically a contractor,' he said.

Carter, Garman's replacement, said the recent focus on computer security has not changed NASA IT operations much.

'One of the primary functions of our office is the oversight of all security matters and to support any agencywide security endeavors,' she said.

'The whole federal government is looking at export control across the board. Our emphasis is not increasing; we are just making sure that we are doing what we need to do,' she said.

Garman agreed. 'Philosophically, we keep raising the wall and [would-be hackers] keep raising the ladders,' he said. 'Security is an ever-evolving technology. We just have to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.'

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