Evans knows where she's going

'While I don't have Mark Forman's experience, I do have a unique insight into how OMB's decisions impact agencies.'

'Karen Evans

Henrik G. de Gyor

OMB's next IT chief vows to keep agencies on steady course toward good management

Karen Evans wants federal employees to know she is not an IT czar, she is not a tyrant and she is not a ruler.

The new Office of Management and Budget administrator for e-government and IT said she is a mother, a wife and someone who thinks IT is fun.

But federal IT managers should also know that Evans, who will move to OMB next month from her post as Energy Department CIO, is also a stickler for meeting goals and deadlines. For instance, as the CIO Council vice chairwoman, she keeps an action item checklist to make sure everything gets done before council meetings.

And it's that quality'the ability to make sure objectives are met'that has helped Evans rise from a GS-2 to a presidential appointee during her 20-year federal career.

Evans outlined her initial vision at the recent Information Resources Management Conference in Cambridge, Md. The administrator post does not require Senate approval, said Clay Johnson III, OMB's deputy director for management, who announced the administration's choice of Evans at the conference.

An Energy spokeswoman said no decision has been made about who will replace Evans, not even on an interim basis.

Just right

'A lot of people asked me why I was moving over to a political position,' Evans said. 'It is because I believe the program that Mark Forman and Norm Lorentz started is the right thing to do. This is all about all of us winning'the citizens and the government.'

Evans said she plans to stay the course set by Forman, who resigned last month to join an IT start-up in California. That direction requires agencies to use business cases to justify IT spending, tie IT investments to an enterprise architecture, and make privacy and security top priorities.

But topping the priority list, Evans said, is finishing the 25 Quicksilver e-government initiatives by next year.

'We need to complete and implement the e-government projects and realize the benefits of the rigor and discipline we are trying to build into' the budget and planning processes, Johnson added.
Johnson said OMB interviewed 'a couple' of people for the position, but 'Karen became our focus from the beginning.'

Evans spent the last 19 months at Energy after serving as director of the IRM division in the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs. She also was assistant director for information services at Justice headquarters.

'We have the opportunity to craft what the future of federal IT will be,' she said. 'This includes breakthrough performances, which will help build the next generation of government IT.'

Evans said she worked closely with Forman on many issues at the CIO Council and is prepared for the position. 'Our management style may be different, but we didn't differ on the goal,' she said. 'We didn't differ on that this is the way to gain with IT, and we didn't differ on business cases. I would offer suggestions on how we could improve some of the processes, and now I get the opportunity to see if they are good suggestions.'

Ira Hobbs, the Agriculture Department's deputy CIO and co-chairman of the CIO Council's Human Capital for IT Committee, said Evans is in the right position at the right time.

'She really is an implementer,' he said. 'She believes in crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, and that is what is needed now.'

Evans said starting out as a GS-2 gave her the opportunity to see how the government works. But she said because she lacks industry experience she will rely on association groups for assistance. 'While I don't have Mark Forman's experience, I do have a unique insight into how OMB's decisions impact agencies,' she said.

David McClure, the Council for Excellence in Government's vice president for e-government, said OMB was looking for someone to continue to implement the vision and not come in with a new one or make too many changes.

'Karen has a lot of good experience under her belt,' McClure said. 'She learned how to do processes and is a great project manager.' McClure added that Evans must be forceful and have a single focus because she is moving from the position of colleague to supervisor.

Johnson downplayed the significance of the shift. 'People get promoted all the time, and it is the normal form of succession,' he said. 'And she isn't really a boss but a leader.'


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