Conventional wisdom on security, the costs of war and the longest-serving CIO.

Conventional Wisdom

Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, it's natural to ask, "Is the country better prepared now than it was then to prevent and respond to disaster?" Yes, says Barry Dorn, co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a joint program of Harvard University's School of Public Health and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. For the past eight years, Dorn's program has brought together federal, state and local government officials and agencies to share leadership lessons learned during crises ranging from the H1N1 flu pandemic a few years ago to the devastating tsunami in Japan earlier this year.

The upcoming presidential political conventions have provided another opportunity for preparedness. The organization recently held a seminar in Tampa, Fla., to help local governments get ready for the 2012 Republican National Convention, and Dorn expects they'll do something similar in Charlotte, N.C., the site of the Democratic powwow. The Harvard program, which targets high-ranking career civil servants, seeks to educate government officials across the country on effective leadership during disasters using a simple framework as the foundation of its curriculum. Part of that framework involves managing up and down (leading vertically) and managing across silos (leading horizontally). Those concepts are very familiar to government employees, particularly those with roles in disaster management.

Dorn, an orthopedic surgeon by training, says public servants are devoted to getting the job done, an opinion he did not have when he started at the preparedness program. "I didn't have a great respect for government workers in the beginning," he admits. "I have the greatest respect for government workers now."

-Kellie Lunney

Medicine on the Move

The National Museum of Health and Medicine's move from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington to Fort Detrick's Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, Md., in September entails the delicate transport of millions of precious artifacts, such as the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln and the shattered leg bone of the notorious Civil War Gen. Daniel Edgar Sickles wounded by cannon fire.

Mission Accomplished

Vance Hitch, government's longest-serving chief information officer, who recently retired from the Justice Department, says the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks kept him in the job-a post most managers vacate after two years.

"It was because of 9/11" that Hitch, who departed in July, joined Justice in spring 2002 and stayed there almost until the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, he says. Hitch had worked at the World Trade Center only a year before terrorists destroyed the landmark.

"I was drawn to the department because I care about its mission," he says. "You can easily get caught up in day-to-day issues."

The past decade has not been without frustrations-a long-delayed FBI case management system for one-but Hitch says he always found motivation in the pursuit of public safety.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has helped government officials organize a slew of acronyms that translate to sophisticated information sharing. Notably, the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program-LEISP-has allowed Justice to electronically circulate criminal and counterterrorism tips among states, local governments and federal agencies.

In addition to trafficking information, Hitch's team focused on protecting it-ultimately propping up a 24-7 network surveillance hub that scans for vulnerabilities and coordinates with other agencies to defend critical data. Hitch says there's never a good time to go, but he's ready for some rest and relaxation. He plans to spend much of the respite at his beach house in Stone Harbor, N.J., after dedicating nearly three decades of his life to steering programs at all levels of government.

-Aliya Sternstein

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the National Museum of Health and Medicine moved to Fort Detrick, Md., and should have said Fort Detrick's Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring. The story has been corrected.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.