PKI guru to leave job for private sector

PKI guru to leave job for private sector

Exec says he will explore his market value, as trend of techies vacating federal work force continues

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

Richard Guida on Dec. 31 will join the growing pool of federal information technology executives who are leaving government for the private sector. But where he will go not even he knows.

Since 1998, Guida has been chairman of the Federal Public-Key Infrastructure Steering Committee. Before that, he spent 25 years working in various systems jobs at the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Laboratory.

PKI Steering Committee's Richard Guida says the government must improve the pay of IT workers.

As he prepares to leave the federal government, Guida said he will spend the next few months determining his market value.

He acknowledged that his value is a concept foreign to someone who has spent his entire 28-year professional career in government.

'What's my market value? I have no idea,' he said. 'My salary is capped in the federal government, so the only way to get an idea is to interview extensively.'

Guida said he would research potential employers, rank them and humbly report his findings to the ultimate decision-maker: his wife.

Together they decided their family must consider financial opportunities as their two children approach college age.

'My younger son wants to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, my alma mater,' Guida said. 'I would be lying if I said money was not a consideration, but it was not the only thing.'

Despite his departure from public service, Guida said he intends to take a private-sector job that focuses on service to people.

'I would like to focus on the betterment of society,' he said. Guida said one of the reasons he took the PKI Steering Committee post was because his work would have a sustained effect on government services.

He pointed out that computer security and information assurance have become essential components in agencies' missions. For instance, the IRS must protect taxpayer documents, the FBI must secure investigative information and the Defense Department must guard national security data.

When he steps down, Guida will have spent almost three years devoted to educating agencies and helping them break through cultural barriers about PKI use, which is still mainly a pilot effort for many agencies. As part of his work, Guida said he has tried to forge information assurance partnerships among organizations at all levels of government'local, state, federal, even foreign.

Although Guida said he's ready for a change, leaving his work and the federal government will be disheartening. He also acknowledged that the departure of many other veteran government systems officials will have an impact.

'No one is irreplaceable,' Guida said. 'But when you have a loss of competent professionals, there will be an adverse effect on the organization.'

Guida joined the Navy in 1977 specifically to study under the tutelage of Adm. Hyman Rickover, known as the father of nuclear propulsion. Guida had graduated from the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at MIT, where he received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science and a master's degree in nuclear engineering.

Rickover was 'an incredible person,' Guida said. 'The opportunity to work with him and his organization was something that only a fool would pass up,' he said.

Guida said he stuck around because the work, the camaraderie among his co-workers and inspiration from superiors such as Rickover motivated him.

'With 28 years in the federal government, no can accuse me of coming into government and leaving in five minutes,' he said.

But Guida also said the government must take proactive steps to curb the current hemorrhage of high-level executives.

Money talks

'Improve the pay,' he suggested, because government IT salaries pale in comparison to the private sector.

'Improve working conditions,' Guida added, and emphasize the need for additional administrative staff support.

Highly paid, executive-level officials often are burdened with administrative work when they need to spend time analyzing data and overseeing program delivery, he said.

'Enable them to do their jobs,' Guida said.


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