Feds give NDU passing grade on IT

Judith Oxman receives her E-Government Leadership Certificate.

Olivier Douliery

Why did a contracting officer become the first person to graduate with an E-Government Leadership Certificate from the National Defense University? Judith Oxman, who works for the Defense Information Systems Agency, sees the certificate as a necessity to better understand the contracts she works on and the electronic procurement process.

NDU began offering the e-government certificate last fall through its Information Resources Management College as part of the CIO Certificate program, NDU officials said. Oxman, who also completed the CIO program in December, needed only a handful of courses to earn NDU's newest certificate.

'With e-government the wave of the future, I really needed to understand how it can help us and the citizens,' said Oxman, the chief of the network and operation services contracting division. 'There are a lot of things I needed to learn about e-government, and there are repercussions in how I do my work that I couldn't learn about anywhere else.'

Changing government

Oxman was one of 109 federal, private sector and foreign government employees who participated in a recent graduation ceremony at the NDU in Washington. Graduates received certification in one of five programs, including the CIO Certificate, Information Assurance Certification and Advanced Management.

Each graduate takes courses either in a five-day residency program or for 10 to 12 weeks in a distance learning program.

NDU officials hope the courses will help IT employees change the way the government works.

'We have become the primary source of education to transform government,' said Robert Childs, director of the IRM College. 'You can't do your job if you don't understand the issues in transforming government. We are trying to teach those issues as we move to centralized systems with decentralized execution of those systems. That is where e-government is going, and that is what we are teaching here.'

Oxman said the course work will help her learn about the IT products and services in the contracts she works with as well as the technology behind the e-procurement system the Defense Department is rolling out.

'At DISA, we mostly buy IT so it seems silly not to understand how IT can help your organization,' she said.

Graduates in other NDU IT courses echoed many of Oxman's comments about how the courses have helped them improve their job performance.

Mike Rivera, the CIO for the Army Corps of Engineers' Buffalo District, earned a certificate in information assurance. He said that without a good understanding of security, an organization can't protect its infrastructure.

'The IA coursework gave me a better understanding of infrastructure operations from an offensive viewpoint, which will let me defend against an attack better,' he said. 'It also helped me understand how to better protect our corporate assets.'

Leslie Lehrkinder, who works in the CIO's office at the IRS, said her certificates in the CIO and Advanced Management programs will assist her in managing the agency's competitive sourcing program and other human resource initiatives.

'The coursework raised my perspective on how IT relates to the rest of the organization,' Lehrkinder said. 'I didn't have an appreciation of the IT tools and skills needed to support the rest of the agency.'

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