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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Balutis, Graves, Unisys CEO headline 2019 Fed100 gala

A few days before Thursday night’s Federal 100 dinner (produced by our sibling publication FCW) an industry friend told me how much he was looking forward to it.

“It’s nice to see good work being recognized,” he said.

It’s something I’ve heard my boss Anne Armstrong, president and chief content officer of the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, talk about several times.

Often people and projects in the public sector only get attention when things go wrong. But that is not the case with the Fed 100. The program recognizes 100 people in the federal space who have done something above and beyond expectations during the past year.

As FCW editor-in-chief Troy Schneider said, these are not lifetime achievement awards but are a recognition of something specific the person as done in the past year.

Generally, there are about 25 or so industry folks on the list.

The program culminates with a black-tie dinner attended by about 1,000 people. Often there is a semi-reunion vibe to the event as you run into people you haven’t seen in a while.

The highlight for me this year was seeing Renny DiPentima, the former SRA International CEO and a legend in the market. I wish I had recorded our interviews over the years as he also imparted insights and wisdom about how the government operates.

In addition to the 100 winners, FCW also presents an Eagle Award to an industry and government official. There is also the President’s Award, which more of a lifetime achievement recognition.

Alan Balutis, former government official and current Cisco Fellow, was tapped for the President’s Award. This is a well-deserved honor as he’s received seven Fed100 awards over the years and has been a mentor and guide to countless people in government and industry.

While he is liked and respected by many, I’m not sure a lot of people realized how funny he could be. His acceptance speech was a string of quips and humorous stories. As funny as it was, it also revealed a spirit of someone who’s worked hard and had fun along the way.

The government Eagle Award went to Margie Graves, deputy federal CIO, and the primary force keeping IT modernization efforts on track.

The first part of her career was in the private sector working on mergers and acquisitions and integration. But after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks she went into government.

Some genetics are at work there as her father is career military. She said last night that her father often asks her, “What have you done for your country lately?”

“Well folks, I think I know the first person I am going to call when I leave tonight, and maybe…just maybe I can finally answer that question,” she said.

Unisys CEO Peter Altabef won the Industry Eagle Award. Over the last year he’s lead the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee’s Cybersecurity Moonshot initiative. The goal of the subcommittee is to make the internet safe and secure by 2028. As FCW described it: Both simple and audacious.

He led a group of 22 tech executives and dozens of experts from industry and government. The initiative hosted 28 expert briefings, 45 subcommittee meetings and a sessions that included the entire subcommittee and DHS officials.

Future threats are hard to predict, Altabef said, but the Moonshot initiative has resulted in a roadmap that outlines risks and makes recommendations toward the 10-year goal.

This year also marked the 30th anniversary of the Fed 100 and in a surprise move, Schneider called the 2019 Eagle winners as well as Eagle winners from past years to come to the stage.

Flanked by these men and women, Schneider then asked Anne Armstrong to come to the stage for a special recognition.

Armstrong and Frank Reeder created the Fed 100 awards. She has shepherded them through the last three decades, keeping them relevant and making the program an integral part of the community.

I’ve known Anne for at least 15 years and I’ve worked for her for the last 12. She was genuinely surprised by the award.

Anne has many talents: a great sense for news, a deep understanding of the market and a passion for journalism.

But one characteristic that sticks out to me is that she wants others to succeed. It’s about the team; it’s never been about her. And her response to the award was typical of Anne:

“I’m going to put this up in our office to remind people that you can accomplish great things when you work together.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 29, 2019 at 11:57 AM

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