Another candidate emerges for OFPP administrator; DHS, GPO lose IT execs

Dedicated career federal employees have held all of the government management positions at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for more than a year. Some like Lesley Field, the acting Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) administrator, have been in this temporary position many times over the last decade so she knows the drill and does a good job.

The good news is there is some light beginning to break through. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the nomination of Margaret Weichert to be the deputy director of management at OMB on Jan. 8 by voice vote. Now the full Senate must confirm Weichert to end more than a year without a DDM.

Once Weichert is in place, observers expect the White House to fill out positions fairly quickly.

One name that has emerged as a leading candidate for the OFPP administrator is Moshe Schwartz, an analyst focusing on the Defense Department for the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Sources say the White House is vetting Schwartz, who most recently was part of the professional staff of the Section 809 panel, which is developing recommendations on changes to DoD acquisition policies and regulations.

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Schwartz would be an interesting pick for OFPP administrator. According to his LinkedIn profile, Schwartz has never worked in acquisition and only studied it at the CRS and the Government Accountability Office. He’s worked at CRS since 2008, and at GAO before that starting in 2004.

This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a good OFPP administrator. One of the best OFPP administrators in the last 15 years was Dan Gordon, who spent his career at GAO before moving to OMB.

If Schwartz is indeed nominated and confirmed by the Senate, how will he bring that extensive knowledge of the military and its acquisition processes to the entire government. While the Federal Acquisition Regulations are the ceiling above every agency, the assortment of rooms for DoD are much broader than anywhere else in government and that could mean a steeper learning curve for him.

The good news is Schwartz will have one of the best staffs in government working at OFPP, and who are used to bringing much less qualified leaders up to speed.

Schwartz has a law degree from Yeshiva University in New York, New York, and a Master’s in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

While it’s unclear if Schwartz will be nominated, there are several other changes in the federal IT community that are happening.

The Homeland Security Department is losing two technology experts.

Jeanne Etzel, who most recently has been senior advisor to the DHS chief information officer and worked in several other roles since 2013, announced her retirement effective Jan. 31. Sources say her last day in the office was Jan. 10.

Etzel, source say, is planning on a real retirement, meaning she is highly unlikely to find her way back to the government as a consultant or by working for a contractor.

Rumors that Etzel was going to retire started back in the fall, but with the turnover in the DHS CIO’s office she stayed on to be acting CIO in the spring and acting deputy CIO in the fall during the transitions.

During her career, Etzel served as FEMA’s CIO and worked in several executive-level positions in private industry, including as CIO and vice president at Capgemini U.S. and as a senior manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Along with Etzel, DHS is losing its chief technology officer. Mike Hermus announced to senior staff last week his last day in the office will be March 2.

Hermus came to DHS in 2015 after spending his career in the private sector. He previously served as chief product and technology officer at House Party Inc., a social marketing platform, as well as CTO at FirstCarbon Solutions, Enverity Corp. and Market XT.

Sources say Hermus, who has been commuting to Washington, D.C. from Connecticut, decided the travel finally was too much and wanted to honestly spend more time with his family.

Hermus’s departure will leave DHS down two senior leaders in the CTO’s office. Rob Palmer, the deputy CTO, left in October.

Sources say one of the reasons why Hermus is sticking around for another six weeks is to help DHS develop a job posting for the position and help with the transition.

Fedscoop first reported Hermus’s decision to leave.

During his tenure as CTO, Hermus grew and developed the CTO’s office. It now has more than 100 staff members that are helping DHS adopt modern IT practices around oversight and delivery.

And speaking of CTOs, the Transportation Department posted for a new one on USAJobs.gov.

“[T]he chief technology officer (CTO) provides technical advice and support to the Department of Transportation’s chief information officer (CIO) on technology innovation. The CTO advances the achievement of the agency’s mission by assisting senior management in recognizing where technology can add value while transforming or supporting program priorities,” the posting states. “The CTO leads the department in a visionary, collaborative and customer-focused manner to leverage technology resources in order to improve business processes, accomplish strategic DoT missions, goals, and program objectives and reduce costs. The CTO initiates and advocates departmentwide system enhancements and changes and promotes the use of information technology and innovative technology solutions to improve the operations, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and service delivery of the department.”

Applications for the position are due by Jan. 18.

Additionally, Tracee Boxley, the Government Publishing Office CIO, seems to have left the agency. It’s unclear if she retired or took another job in government.

GPO posted the CIO’s position on USAJobs.gov and listed Layton Clay as the acting CIO.

Boxley had been CIO only since October after serving in an acting capacity starting in November of 2015.

Clay has been with GPO since 2004 and has led the Application Management and Development Division since 2015.

Job applications are due Jan. 26.

Read more of the Reporter’s Notebook.