The Situation Report: Beware of Those Parachutes From Silicon Valley

silicon valley parachutes2

Is the Obama administration’s election year lust for Silicon Valley’s dead presidents destroying the future of the career Federal technology leader?

My remote listening post picked up some interesting chatter along 17th Street near the New Executive Office Building that indicates a few very capable career Federal chief information officers have been given the cold shoulder by the General Services Administration during the search for a commissioner of the newly formed Technology Transformation Service (TTS).

Signals intelligence indicates that one of the Federal government’s most experienced and capable CIOs was told by GSA that they didn’t bring enough “management experience” to the table. In fact, the executive search firm that is responsible for guiding Silicon Valley types through the Federal job application process also went dark once they realized this CIO was already a Federal employee.

“This administration seems to be making an effort to place industry executives with deep pockets in career Federal IT positions,” said a senior Federal technology leader with nearly 20 years of government service. “It’s an election year.”

Proof? Well, we know that the former associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services/18F at GSA—Phaedra Chrousos—co-founded and sold two tech start-up firms before joining government as a political appointee. But that’s hardly a smoking gun.

What is more compelling, however, is the fact that one of the career Federal CIOs who was unsuccessful in their bid to land an interview at GSA was told by a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget that the handful of candidates who were invited to an interview each had a net worth of at least $300 million.

Boom.

Follow the Security Money

There’s a lot of money behind the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program. So far, DHS and the General Services Administration have shelled out more than $110 million worth of task orders, the latest being Task Order 2F for continuous monitoring as a service.

There have been reports, however, that the pace of the CDM program is frustrating some in industry. My Tysons Corner listening post has intercepted raw reports that some agencies are simply delaying some cybersecurity investments because they know future task orders under the CDM program will cover them.

Symantec’s Ken Durbin recently told The Situation Report that CDM is where most of the action is right now in Federal cybersecurity.

“You can’t ignore the impact of CDM,” said Durbin, Symantec’s unified security strategist. “Of course, there’s money behind CDM and it’s controlling what our customers actually do.”

Whistleblower Award

My online sensor network has picked up strong signals that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is working on an award program for national intelligence professionals who effectuate change “by speaking truth to power, by exemplifying professional integrity, or by reporting wrongdoing through appropriate channels.”

Too bad, Edward Snowden. That was so close. If they would just ditch that “appropriate channels” language, you might be able to come in out of the cold.

Dan Verton
About Dan Verton
MeriTalk Executive Editor Dan Verton is a veteran journalist and winner of the First Place Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for Best News Reporting -- the highest award in the nation for business/trade journalism. Dan earned a Master's Degree in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C., and has spent the last 20 years in the nation's capital reporting on government, enterprise technology, policy and national cybersecurity. He’s also a former intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps, has authored three books on cybersecurity, and has testified on critical infrastructure protection before both House and Senate committees.
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