Luigart, Paller honored by CIO Council

When Craig Luigart found out a few days ago he had won the 7th Government Azimuth Award, he didn't believe the bearer of the news.

Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget's administrator for e-government and IT, assured Luigart he was indeed the winner and was telling him early because she wanted to make sure he was able to give an acceptance speech.

"I was stunned and I couldn't talk for 10 minutes," said Luigart, the associate deputy assistant secretary for plans, policy and program execution at the Veterans Affairs Department, last night at the awards ceremony in Washington. "I didn't even know I was in the running."

Luigart said Evans wanted to tell him early because he sometimes has trouble talking when he gets emotional because of a neurological condition that has restricted his speech and limited him to a wheelchair.

He said he was stunned because "I didn't think I was even nominated for the award." As a member of the CIO Council, Luigart votes on the nominees, but he wasn't listed on his ballot.

In addition to Luigart, the CIO Council, which sponsors the annual awards, honored Alan Paller, director of the Sans Institute of Bethesda, Md., with the Industry award.

"Alan is a champion and promoter of our successes and a kind corrector when we slip up," said Tim Young, OMB's associate administrator for e-government and IT. "He is a quiet but faithful friend and protector."

The Azimuths, handed out each year at an awards dinner during the FOSE trade show in Washington, honor people whose work has benefited government IT.

Luigart is best known for focusing the government on Section 508 accessibility standards. He has been the CIO of the Education Department and the chairman of the CIO Council's 508 Committee.

"It is easy to be impressed with Craig," said Dan Matthews, CIO Council vice chairman and Transportation CIO. "He is an inspiration through his enthusiasm and ability to create a vision and implement it."

Paller is best known for his work on IT security through the non-profit Sans Institute and its training, educating and certification programs.

"This is a special honor because of the people in this room," Paller told the audience of mostly federal executives, including many CIOs. "The CIOs have done more to turn the tide against cybercrime than almost anything in the private sector."

Paller said the government's procurement power has pushed vendors to deliver more secure computers and that has started to turn the tide against cyber crime.

"The change over the past 12 months has been palatable," Paller said. "Computers are extraordinarily safer and that gives me real reason for optimism."

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