Policies and practices: Ex-feds take OMB's IT vision to private sector

Jason Miller

Charlie Self, Frank McDonough, Jim Flyzik and Bill McVay have amassed more than 100 years of federal experience among them. They represent a small but growing cadre of long-time feds who have recently retired and moved into the private sector.

While many think this does not bode well for the future of the federal government, good or bad, it will quicken the government's pace to a transactional e-government environment.

Personnel officials are concerned about how to replace the knowledge and experience these workers take with them. The truth is, these dedicated employees cannot be replaced.

But as more agency IT executives move on, they bring the federal e-government strategy to the private sector. Their knowledge of policies such as the Clinger-Cohen Act and E-Government Act will change the way vendors do business with agencies and how they sell IT products and services to the government.

New people with new ideas and a grasp of the IT agenda will move into the more important roles.
Employee retirements or departures for the private sector are hardly new in government. Good people have often left for jobs in industry. But this migration could be different. Over the last 18 months, the Office of Management and Budget has worked to institutionalize IT business cases, enterprise architectures, and capital planning and investment methods. The departing employees bought into OMB's vision and worked to achieve it, even in the face of criticism from outside and resistance from within.

They know that if they want to succeed in the private sector, they have to educate their new colleagues to offer services that conform to OMB's strategy.

As for the new leaders, they could have an easier time advancing OMB's vision and further breaking down the barriers to e-government. New positions bring new excitement and ideas and a fresh perspective. If nothing else, enthusiasm is contagious.

Mark Forman, administrator for OMB's Office of E-Government and IT, spoke at a recent conference about the passion necessary to move forward into what he called an uncomfortable zone. This is where OMB and agencies will start shutting down redundant systems and moving to joint applications.

The support the federal retirees have given this vision and the excitement the new leaders will bring will make the job of shutting down systems and continuing down the road of effective IT management a much easier path to travel.

So as we say goodbye to Frank, Charlie, Bill, Jim and many others, the time to mourn their departures should be short. They helped plant the seeds of e-government, and they will be helping it grow.

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