Kudos to Koskinen

Humiliating reports about dozens of failed information technology projects prompted John Koskinen, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, to call a meeting about three years ago with Roger Johnson, then-administrator of the General Services Administration. After reviewing the problems, the two decided to convene a group of experts to evaluate why so many federal computer and telecommunications initiatives were not achieving their intended goals.

That group reported its findings to Vice President Gore who, in turn, opened discussions with Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, who was drafting legislation intended to overhaul how the government buys and manages information technology. The resulting law, the 1996 Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA), eliminated much of the bureaucracy associated with IT procurements and mandated that agencies appoint chief information officers to rationalize future computer investments.

Koskinen has been instrumental in implementing the ITMRA-ensuring, for example, that President Clinton signed an executive order establishing a CIO Council. As chairman of the council, Koskinen has worked tirelessly to get agencies to share best practices for setting up performance measures so that a governmentwide strategic approach to information technology can be developed.

In addition, Koskinen has used his position as chairman of the President's Management Council to ensure that agencies are taking the new CIO position seriously.

For these various contributions, the judges of the Federal Technology Leadership Awards presented Koskinen with a special award at this year's ceremony. Speaking for the judges, Alan Paller of the CIO Institute said: "Systemic change demands strong leadership, and John Koskinen is supplying that key ingredient in reforming government's information technology mess."

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