Former GSA exec makes legislative run

Former GSA exec makes legislative run

Mike Corrigan says he learned how laws are implemented in the workplace during his government tenure.

After overseeing FTS 2000 comm program, Northern Virginia Democrat prepares for November race

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

Mike Corrigan, former assistant commissioner for telecommunications services at the General Services Administration, is running for Congress in Northern Virginia's 11th congressional district.

Corrigan, a consultant with Warren H. Suss Associates of Jenkintown, Pa., oversaw the FTS 2000 long-haul communications program from contract awards through implementation of voice, data and video services during his six years at GSA.

Corrigan won the Democratic congressional nomination last month and will face Republican incumbent Thomas M. Davis III in November.

Corrigan, 53, was born in Staunton, Va., and lives in Reston with his wife, Mary Ann, and two children. He graduated from Fordham College in New York City and earned a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. After leaving the Army in 1974, he did civilian government work on the Defense Data Network (DDN), an early part of the Internet.

Corrigan's government work has shaped his positions as a candidate. His Web site, at www.corriganforcongress.com, hosts opinion forums for federal employees and contractors.

'Government employees are an important constituency in the district' that meanders through technology-rich Fairfax and Prince William counties, Corrigan said.

One reason the former GSA official is running for office, he said, is that he learned during his government career how laws are implemented in the federal workplace.

'It was difficult to get any feedback from the workers to the legislators,' he said. The disconnect often led to well-intentioned laws having negative effects, he said, citing the Brooks Act that controlled federal procurement and was named for former Texas Democratic congressman Jack Brooks.

'In the view of most of the people who had to deal with it, the act had become counterproductive 10 years before Brooks retired,' Corrigan said, and not until after Brooks lost his seat in 1994 did Congress repeal the act.

'I think legislators need to be a tad more humble,' Corrigan said.

Before heading up telecommunications services at GSA, Corrigan was DDN's technical manager and also served as the first chairman of the Internet Engineering Task Force. He went to GSA in 1988 shortly before the award of FTS 2000 contracts to Sprint Corp. and AT&T Corp. At the time, FTS 2000 covered only voice service.

'I was brought in for the data part,' Corrigan said. 'My background at Defense was in data comm.' When he arrived at GSA, he said, 'they didn't know what a packet switch was. I knew what a voice switch was, but that was about the extent of it.'

Before leaving GSA at the end of 1994, Corrigan helped oversee the conversion of FTS 2000 from a primarily analog to a primarily digital program. He also fostered the introduction of such voice enhancements as toll-free 800 number service for the government's long-haul telecom contracts.

Corrigan helped convince the Defense Department and the Postal Service, which had not been part of FTS 2000's mandated agency coverage, to join up.

'That was a sell,' he said. 'They could have opted to stay out.'

Corrigan said the government recognizes the value of information technology and has done a good job of using it to deliver information.

What now?

'I would like to see us get to the next level' where IT delivers services and makes online transactions possible, he said.

Corrigan also said he thinks smart cards will be the enabling technology for online government by providing the necessary degree of security and authentication.

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