Forman's legacy: better IT management

As the news spread that Mark Forman will leave the Office of Management and Budget for a job in the private sector, the reaction in the federal IT community was not of surprise, but of understanding and consideration.

Forman, whose last day as the administrator for e-government and IT is Aug. 15, will leave a sure legacy of better IT management, a passion for his job and an understanding of how the federal game is played, federal observers and agency IT managers said.

"Mark played senior manager, analyst and mentor to many people at OMB and in government," said Stephen Galvan, CIO of the Small Business Administration and a former Quicksilver portfolio manager at OMB. "Mark brought an unique combination of knowledge of the government, IT management practices and e-business approaches that drive change."

Galvan, who was a part of Forman's inner circle for much of the last 18 months, said the transformation OMB sought came from Forman's ability to establish a vision and change governmentwide practices.

"He really established the groundwork for how the government manages IT," Galvan said. "He had to deal with a lot of strong factions within government, in Congress and in the vendor community. We knew we were accomplishing things when vendors would object to what we were doing."

David McClure, vice president for e-government for the Council for Excellence in Government, a Washington nonprofit, echoed many of Galvan's opinions.

McClure said one of Forman's biggest accomplishments was defining his position.

"When Mark first interviewed for the position, it was not well-defined and there was a lot of questions surrounding it," he said. "Now it is a pretty prestigious position because it has been created in law and also in terms of the legacy Mark is leaving behind."

McClure said Forman achieved more than anyone before him in getting the government to manage IT more effectively and efficiently.

While both Galvan and McClure said e-government is far from complete, both said Forman's impact is unmistakable, and his successor will have a big role to fill.

"The person will need to offer direction, guidance, make e-government a priority, and have the ability to solve problems and communicate," McClure said. "The course is pretty well set, but the need for a strong governmentwide leader remains."

McClure said the next administrator should have a similar background to Forman's?industry and government experience as well as a complete understanding of the Hill.

Galvan said the person should come from government because they need to have bought in to the administration's vision and complete what Forman started.

Neither McClure nor Galvan would offer names of potential successors.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News.

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