E-government chief to leave OMB for private sector

The Office of Management and Budget's technology chief announced this week that he will step down on Aug. 15, ending what administration officials, industry experts and lawmakers praised as a very effective tenure.

Mark Forman, administrator of OMB's Office of E-government and Information Technology, will leave to take a job at a startup company in California's Silicon Valley, according to a source who asked not to be identified. The company does not yet have a name.

OMB has narrowed the list of possible replacements to roughly four people, all of whom are well-known within the information technology community, an industry source said.

Administration officials have remained tight-lipped about details surrounding the resignation, but said that Norman Lorentz, chief technology officer of information technology and e-government at OMB, will fill Forman's spot until a new administrator is in place. Forman spent more than two years leading OMB's technology efforts.

OMB will "press forward" with Forman's pet projects, including electronic government initiatives designed to give the public greater access to federal services, according to spokesman Trent Duffy. The departing technology leader has "served the administration and taxpayers well," Duffy said.

Since joining OMB in June 2001, Forman has led crusades to eliminate duplicative technology and secure federal computer networks against hackers. He has also encouraged agencies to share technological resources and break out of a "stovepipe mentality."

Forman has reached out to citizens as well, putting them in better touch with federal agencies through the 25 e-government initiatives under his office's purview. The initiatives are an integral component of President Bush's five-part management agenda. In May, Forman told OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson that he would like to see 80 percent of the initiatives up and running by July 1, 2004.

"[Forman] has provided a great deal of focus and leadership to the e-government strategy," said David McClure, vice president of e-government at the Council for Excellence in Government. McClure added that he hopes OMB finds a replacement who will provide the same quality leadership.

An ideal replacement would also have Forman's talent for analyzing and justifying spending on e-government projects and other technology investments, McClure said. Shortly after taking office, Forman successfully "put a laser beam on [technology budgets], and demonstrated what we were spending and how we could do it more effectively," McClure added.

Forman also provided agencies with substantial guidance on how they could better consolidate existing resources and present business cases alongside funding requests, according to McClure. The federal information technology budget has grown since Forman took office, and will reach $59 billion in fiscal 2004 if Congress grants the administration's request.

The infrastructure for business case analyses that Forman created will endure after he leaves office, said Don Arnold, director of business development at PeopleSoft, an information technology consulting company based in Pleasanton, Calif. Forman's personal attributes will be harder to replace, Arnold said.

"He drove a lot of things by the force of his personality," Arnold explained, adding that Forman was effective because he is "a collaborator by nature."

Throughout his tenure, Forman reached out to industry, as well as state and local technology officers, McClure said. He made friends on Capitol Hill as well. "The challenge for his successor will be to build further on the ties he's established," McClure noted.

Prior to his stint at OMB, Forman was vice president for e-business at Unisys Corp. He also held positions at IBM Global Services, Defense Group Inc. and the Analytic Sciences Corp. (TASC), and was a senior professional staff member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Forman graduated from Ohio State University with an economics degree and earned a master's degree in quantitative methods and applied microeconomics at the University of Chicago's Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.

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