Wyatt Kash | Over the hurdles

Editor's Desk

Wyatt Kash

The scope of accomplishments represented by this year's GCN IT Leadership Award winners is a compelling testament to what can be done, and is being done, in the face of adversity.

There's the State Department's Donald Reid, who found a way to remotely manage and secure information technology systems in 260 overseas locations.

There's the Coast Guard's Chris Kluckhuhn, who ' without a staff, budget or actual authority ' cobbled together a demonstration project that later won funding and now is an important component in maritime homeland security.

There's the Veterans Affairs Department's Ginger Price, who laid much of the groundwork to foster MyHealtheVet, making it possible for as many as 162 VA medical centers to provide online prescription refills and other services to 2.6 million veterans.

These and the many other stories in this issue provide a glimpse of the far-reaching impact just some of the thousands of government IT professionals are making each year in the service of government.

Their stories, though, aren't just about the work of the individuals we're recognizing with these awards. Indeed, each of them would likely defer all the credit to the teams that, by chance or design, they came to be part of.

Rather, their stories are a reflection of what can happen when vision, passion, courage and a collaborative mind-set are brought to bear on difficult challenges. They also reflect the catalytic effect one individual can have, apart from his or her actual role or authority, on the work and lives of those around them ' and whether a project ultimately succeeds or fails.

There was some fascinating debate among our judges this year on the issue of courage and innovation, one of the criteria used to select our winners. At issue: When does someone's zeal to break through the status quo become more a management challenge than effective leadership? The answer: The boundary isn't always clear; nor are the outcomes as plain as they appear.

What is clear are the lessons to be drawn from this year's winners. To be a successful IT leader in government takes a compelling vision of what can be done, an ability to get others to not only see your vision but also contribute collaboratively to it, authoritative command of what technology can accomplish, and plain old determination.

Wyatt Kash, Editor in chief

E-mail: wkash@1105govinfo.com

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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