IT advances, leaders are saluted

William S. Cohen, the former U.S. senator from Maine and defense secretary, was presented the GCN National Merit Award for Technology Excellence in Government.

Olivier Douliery

Advances in information and communications technology, coupled with renewed patriotism since the Sept. 11 attacks, are helping to fortify the nation's battle against terrorism.

That was one message delivered tonight at the Government Computer News Awards, an annual black-tie gala in Washington saluting government IT leaders and projects.

'Information is power,' said William S. Cohen, the former U.S. senator from Maine and defense secretary, who was presented the GCN National Merit Award for Technology Excellence in Government.

Cohen, now the chairman of a Washington consulting firm, stressed the need to make progress in communications technology so soldiers and sailors will have the best information before and during battle.

'That kind of connectivity is going to continue to make us the finest fighting force,' he said.

Protecting and defending the country, harnessing information technology, was a theme of the night.

The president, chief executive and chairman of Unisys Corp., Lawrence Weinbach, said his company's work with the Homeland Security Department 'has become an emotional contract ' It is about having a free country.'

Weinbach was honored as industry executive of the year at the gala, attended by 1,200.

Steven Cooper, the chief information officer of the Homeland Security Department, received civilian executive of the year honors.

'I am just a front man,' Cooper said, accepting the award on behalf of the nearly 200,000 workers in the agency that has been molded from 22 agencies in a year.

'This is a tremendous accomplishment,' Cooper said. 'We have done a lot ' we have a lot to do.'

The Army's IT chief, Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle received the GCN Department of Defense executive of the year award, and he, too, accepted the award for the more than 300,000 active-duty soldiers in the field today.

'Each one is a hero,' he said. 'They are the ones that this is about.'

Members of Cirque Magnifique provided entertainment.

(Posted 11:54 p.m. Oct. 29; revised 7:50 a.m. Oct. 30)

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