Staton joins Energy as deputy CIO

Errington replacement ends three decades with weather agency

If I had to pick a headache ... it's going to be coming to grips with the scale of things, but that's not something new to me.' Carl Staton, Energy's Deputy CIO

Steve Barrett

The Energy Department has had its share of IT woes in the recent past, particularly in the area of security.

Most recently, in June, DOE revealed that personal information on more than 1,500 employees of the National Nuclear Security Administration was stolen two years ago, and the theft wasn't discovered for more than a year.

And there has been turnover in the IT ranks. Associate chief information officer Bruce Brody left DOE at the end of 2005, followed quickly by CIO Rosita Parkes.

Tom Pyke succeeded Parkes, and he tapped William Hunteman to fill Brody's slot.
Throughout those changes, deputy CIO Gordon Errington stayed in place and provided a measure of continuity, until now.

'After 33 years of government service, I am retiring on Sept. 30,' Errington announced in an e-mail he sent Aug. 22.

Errington has been at DOE, both as contractor and a federal employee, for nine years. He said in the e-mail, 'I plan on doing some independent consulting for a few years before actually, really retiring to a sunny place.' He is a disabled veteran, and one source at DOE said Errington will pursue government contracts as a veteran-owned business.

Arriving from NOAA

The same day Errington announced he was leaving, Carl Staton, CIO for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, notified friends and colleagues that he will be taking the deputy CIO slot at DOE.

'I think they have some exciting challenges there,' Staton said about his move in an interview with GCN.

'It's an opportunity to work at the department level with Tom [Pyke] and the IT management across the Department of Energy,' he said. He acknowledged that IT security is perhaps the top issue for DOE at the moment.

'My experience here at NOAA will be of benefit there. There's a similar organizational structure, not totally independent, sort of [federated functions],' he said. 'Coordinating across them for the most effective and efficient solutions is something we've worked hard on here at NOAA.'

Staton has worked for NOAA for three decades and was named CIO in 2002. He said he plans to start at DOE on or about Oct. 1. But Staton and Pyke have a long-standing work relationship.

'I worked with Tom when he was associate administrator for satellite and information services at NOAA, and I was the Weather Service chief information officer when Tom was the NOAA CIO,' he said. 'And I had a dotted-line relationship with Tom when he was CIO at Commerce,' NOAA's parent department.

While there may be parallels in the organizational structures of DOE and NOAA, the two operations are completely different in size and mission complexity.

Small agency background

'If I had to pick a headache ... it's just going to be coming to grips with the scale of things, but that's not something new for me,' Staton said.

NOAA is a small agency within the Commerce Department, with perhaps 18,500 employees including contractors, Staton said. DOE has approximately 100,000 employees and contractors.

'My CIO office here is about 100 people, including contractors, while the CIO office at Energy is many hundreds,' he said.

And while NOAA's climate work, such as meteorology, requires high-end computing power, the scale there is different, too.

'NOAA's high-performance computers tally many gigaflops to a few teraflops; Energy is numerous petaflops,' Staton said.

Despite three decades at NOAA, Staton said, working at Energy will not present him with completely unfamiliar issues.

'You never know what's going to come back to help you in your career,' he said with a laugh.

'My first job out of college at N.C. State in 1974, with my degree in computer science, I went to work [for a company] building nuclear-power plant training rooms'a mock-up of a real-world control room of our customer's nuclear power plant. I did some programming there. ... So I had right out of the gate some experience with nuclear energy, and now I'm going back to the nuclear industry.'

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