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Posts Tagged ‘Interior

DorobekInsider: Who’s going to be the acting Interior CIO?

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So Mike Howell has reported for duty at his new post as the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy administrator for e-government and information technology, the federal government’s senior career IT position. But people are still awaiting word on who will be the Interior CIO — acting or otherwise.

Most people believe that Jerry Williams will take that post. Williams, of course, joined Interior earlier this year, replacing Ed Meagher, who retired from government service to join SRA. But there is an ongoing — dare we call it conflict — between Interior headquarters and the bureaus and there are some who believe one of the Interior bureau CIOs would be better suited to the post.

I keep checking to see if the new CIO post has been filled. I don’t believe it has yet, but if somebody knows more then I do… let me know.

As we say in radio, stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

September 22, 2008 at 5:50 PM

Posted in CIOs, Whose In and Whose Out

Tagged with , Denett’s Interior connection

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We’ve all been watching the case of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service. (More here.) The Interior Department’s inspector general last week found that the government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators.

Three interesting tidbits here.

One, as I read in Federal Times, is the small world connection. Former OFPP Administrator Paul Denett’s wife, Ludy Denett, is the former associate director of Interior’s Minerals Revenue Management agency, a component of MMS.

A report by the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office describes wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), an agency that collects royalties from oil and gas projects on federal lands. The two highest-ranking employees named in the investigation are Lucy Denett, the former associate director of the Minerals Revenue Management agency, a component of MMS; and Gregory Smith, the former director of the Minerals Revenue Management’s royalty-in-kind program, which collects royalties in the form of oil and gas rather than cash…

Denett allegedly steered two contracts for technical advisory services to Jimmy Mayberry, a former Senior Executive Service employee at the agency, after he retired in 2002. The contracts totaled about $1.1 million over five years. Denett is married to Paul Denett, a longtime federal procurement executive who recently stepped down as the Office of Management and Budget’s head of federal procurement policy.

It’s important to remember that these are allegations right now. There almost always is a rush to judge — and the facts also evolve over time.

Secondly, I’m always interested in how agencies handle these kinds of high-profile content. For the Interior Department’s IG office, it is just like any other document and, therefore, it can be difficult to find. I, of course, did a Google search of Interior Department IG, found the IG’s main page, and then had to look under 2008 reports. The report, is listed as “[C-EV-MMS-0001-2008] Minerals Management Service Royalty-In-Kind Oil Sales Process.” (Sexy title, hmm?) From there, there is a link to a PDF and text file.

To the Interior’s (partial) credit, I went back to the Interior Department’s home page and they have put Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne’s response to the case, including posting it as a audio podcast, and they also have posted a link to the IG reports, although not the specific report.

Finally, I always find it interesting how people react to these kinds of incidents. Harvard Prof. Steve Kelman has been very conerned about the culture of hyper-oversight. I have shared that concern mostly because of the impact that the hyper-oversight has on how people do their jobs. The oversight of the oversight has led to a hyper-risk adverse culture in government — we simply don’t tolerate mistakes.

Over on Steve Kelman’s blog, The Lecturn, somebody calling themselves “Lisa Simpson” made this comment:

Prof. Kelman, I have been thinking a lot about the climate of fear that you hope doesn’t descend on the contracting world and was so happy to read about Paul Denett’s wife at MMS — they showed us all how to get down, and operate without fear. Way to go MMS! PARTY! PARTY!

It’s important to be clear — illeagal activities are… well, they’re illegal. And if people do illegal things, they ought to be prosecuted. There is a difference between illegal activities and what is often simply a difference of opinion about how to handle issues. (I’d point to the SunMicrosystems schedule contract issue as a case in point.)

In the end, most people do what they are supposed to do and we need to trust them — and go after those who don’t. The question is what is the proper role of oversight — and how can oversight actually help get the job done. To me right now, it seems that oversight often gets in the way of getting the job done.

Written by cdorobek

September 22, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Posted in oversight

Tagged with , , , , Interior’s Howell to move to OMB

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Interior Department CIO Mike Howell will become the government's senior career IT official.

Interior Department CIO Mike Howell will become the government

In what may have been the worst kept secret in government IT, Interior Department CIO Mike Howell has a new job — and a powerful new job at that. Howell has accepted an offer to be OMB’s deputy administrator for e-government and information technology, the federal government’s senior career IT position. Howell will move to OMB in mid-September, government and industry officials confirm, replacing Tim Young.

In December, Young was promoted to be deputy director. At the same time, OMB shifted the deputy director post to a career position as part of an over all reorganization of OMB’s IT management.

Young, however, is a political appointee who therefore must leave at the end of the Bush administration. Insiders say that he is in the process of searching for an IT management consulting position.

Howell will serve as the deputy to Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator of e-government and IT. Howell has served as Interior CIO since May 2007 and has worked in many parts of the Interior organization. It is unclear who will take Howell’s place as Interior CIO.

The position becomes exceedingly important with the looming administration transition and was widely seen as a plum post — not officially “plum,” but… you know what I mean. OMB received more than 75 applications for the post.

Evans has told friends that she wouldn’t be opposed to staying on as a bridge to a new administration, but it is most likely that Howell, as deputy, would become the government’s most senior IT official until a new e-gov/IT administrator is named.

The move will also set off a scramble for who would be the new Interior CIO. Jerry Williams joined DOI as the deputy CIO in July replacing Ed Meagher, who left to join SRA International. Williams would be the obvious choice, but Interior often works in mysterious ways.

You can read Howell’s Interior bio after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

September 5, 2008 at 6:30 PM