EPA's new CIO tackles a revamped job

EPA's new CIO tackles a revamped job

Alvin Pesachowitz, EPA's first CIO, will retire in June. 'Thirty-two years with one company is a long time,' he says.

Replacing 32-year veteran Pesachowitz, Levine leads agency's reorganized IT shop on new initiatives

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

The Environmental Protection Agency has named Edwin A. Levine chief information officer and deputy assistant administrator for its new Office of Environmental Information.

EPA's first CIO, Alvin Pesachowitz, said he would retire in June to work in the private sector. Pesachowitz said that although he was not sure where he would end up, he would look for a job in which he could continue to help federal agencies.

Until his departure, Pesachowitz will undertake a temporary assignment for the agency's chief financial officer. He will provide analysis and recommendations on streamlining the business operations of EPA's Working Capital Fund, which the agency uses to support its systems programs.

Levine hails from Florida, where he worked for six years in the governor's Office of Policy and Budget on a variety of information technology issues. For several years before that he was staff director for the state Legislature's Joint Legislative Committee on IT. A recruiter contacted Levine about the EPA post.

Levine starts today as the first CIO of EPA's reorganized IT shop. The agency has been working to improve its data management, and since early fall it has been reorganizing its systems and information gathering programs under a single organization [GCN, Oct. 11, 1999, Page 50].

Asked how he is approaching his new job, Levine joked, 'Carefully.'

Despite the increased scale of the job, the issues are essentially the same as those faced by state and local governments, he said. Levine added that CIOs in the public and private sectors also face some common concerns.

Levine has been working with Pesachowitz on the transition of leadership.

'Al has been a real stalwart in the CIO community,' Levine said. 'I don't think I can replace Al in any sense of the word.'

But he said he hopes to continue the work Pesachowitz has done with the CIO Council.

In a memo, EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner praised Pesachowitz's service to EPA.

'Al [has] provided direction that strengthened information programs throughout the government. Through his knowledge of the agency and its management programs, as well as his networking with other agency CIOs, Al has provided invaluable advice to the agency in the fast-paced world of information technology,' Browner said.

Asked why he decided to leave, Pesachowitz said, 'Thirty-two years with one company is a long time.'

He has held administration and systems management jobs at the agency. Pesachowitz said there was little he had not done in the agency.

'The government has given me the opportunity to grow,' he said.

'The first job I had at EPA was to fill in a color map of townships in New Jersey by hand to indicate if they were meeting ambient air-quality standards,' he said. 'The move from there to supercomputer visualization is fairly substantial.'

Quality time

Pesachowitz said that during his tenure, EPA maintained a quality infrastructure on which it built its information systems. EPA has a good WAN and was an early adopter of the client-server architecture, which let it become an early user of the Internet, he said.

Most agencies still need time to make the government as nimble as the private sector in being able to react to change, he said.

Recent efforts by the agency to secure its systems, in the wake of congressional criticism, demonstrate Pesachowitz's point. Ultimately, EPA officials felt compelled to pull the plug on the agency's Web site temporarily, and the agency has been working closely with the General Accounting Office on bolstering its security practices generally [GCN, March 6, Page 1].

Pesachowitz is the second senior IT official to leave EPA this year. Jerry Slaymaker, adviser to the CIO, stepped down last month after 36 years at the agency [GCN, March 6, Page 3].


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