GSA Losing 3 Acquisition, Technology Leaders

Federal News Radio
Jason Miller
August 13, 2018

The General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service is seeing a lot of movement in its executive ranks. Three key leaders announced they were leaving the agency, including Kay Ely, the assistant commissioner for the IT category.

Federal News Radio has confirmed that Ely announced her plans to retire by Dec. 31 after taking a 90-day detail to work on the GSA-Office of Personnel Management merger. Ely will leave her assistant commissioner role on Sept. 30 to go on the detail and work with the interagency task force.

Ely worked at OPM for five years before coming to GSA in 2011.

GSA’s Kay Ely speaking during an interview at Federal News Radio.

Sources say it’s unclear who will replace Ely on an interim basis with leading candidates expected to be Keith Nakasone, the deputy assistant commissioner for acquisition, and Bill Zielinski, the deputy assistant commissioner for ITC under Ely.

Along with Ely, Joel Minton, the executive director of the program, and David Zvenyach, who was the assistant commissioner for the FAS Office of Systems Management until May when he became a senior advisor, announced their plans to return to the private sector.

Sources say Minton is headed to Google after spending the last two-plus years working for the U.S. Digital Service on the program.

Sources confirmed that Alex Dalessio, a Presidential Innovation Fellow since October, will become the new executive director of and Eric Mill, a senior adviser at TTS, will be the new deputy director.

Zvenyach sent a note to colleagues Aug. 7 announcing his decision to move on after more than three years at GSA and 10 in public service.

“I’m leaving GSA at the end of the fiscal year to pursue new opportunities outside of government,” Zvenyach wrote in an email obtained by Federal News Radio. “Although I’m happy to talk to you offline about those plans, my immediate plan is to keep running through the tape until my very last day.”

It’s unclear who will replace Zvenyach at this point.

“Six months after I joined 18F in 2015, I wrote that ‘[i]t’s truly hard to explain in this medium how intensely grateful I am that I get to participate in this little government experiment.’ That gratitude never wore off, and it never will,” Zvenyach told colleagues. “In fact, it intensified. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many different parts of GSA. The agency is filled with extraordinary public servants, and I feel so fortunate to have had the privilege to serve alongside each and every one of you. Thank you. Although I’m excited for the new opportunities ahead, and I’m as optimistic as ever about the future of GSA, FAS, OSM, TTS, 18F, and (my first home) AcqStack, my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that I will miss y’all madly.”

Ely’s decision to retire comes as several important FAS initiatives are getting going, including the transition to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, the kick-off of the Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition service and potential major changes to the schedules program.

She said at an event sponsored by AFFIRM in July that FAS is focused on being more innovative, using emerging technology such as artificial intelligence and distributed ledger to speed up the contract award process.

Zvenyach also is leaving a key time for his project, which is to transform the systems under the Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE).

GSA recently launched a new beta version of the System for Award Management (SAM), turned off the old Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, moved to a new hosting environment and enabled services across

Minton’s decision to return to the private sector is less surprising. He worked at Intuit, eBay and several other large and small technology companies during his career so returning to the private sector at some time was expected.

He came to federal service to work for USDS on this specific program. Now almost three years later, seems to have turned an important corner of getting agencies to use the service. Along with, two other major programs are using services, including and the Trusted Traveler Program.

Taking Stock: Leading GSA's Federal Acquisition Service into the Future

Mark Rockwell
July 26, 2018

 Despite some hurdles, Federal Acquisition Service leaders remain confident in their agency's ability to move ahead with its e-commerce portal effort, a $50 billion telecommunications contract and transactional data reporting pilot.

The e-commerce portal plan took a hit when Congress pushed back on a proposal backed by the General Service Administration officials to increase the civilian micro-purchase threshold to $25,000 from $10,000.

The increase would make using e-commerce portals easier and more attractive to federal buyers and a key to the portal initiative, according to GSA.

The request for increase was not included in the final National Defense Authorization Act, although the bill does increase the Defense Department's micro-purchase threshold from $5,000 to $10,000, to match civilian spending authorities.

The agency has been working with Congress on finding ways to increase the micro-purchase limit, FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas, told FCW at an Association for Federal Information Resources Management event on July 26.

The year-old Enterprise Infrastructure Services contract, which faced a sluggish initial reception from federal agency customers, is benefiting from the Trump administration's IT modernization push, according to Thomas and Kay Ely, assistant commissioner, in FAS' Office of IT Category.

"The momentum has changed dramatically" around EIS, said Ely, who was also at the AFFIRM event. More outreach by FAS to federal agencies to help connect them with the 10 prime contractors on the vehicle has also helped push the contract into agencies looking to hit IT modernization goals.

"The conversation with agencies has changed. We're seeing statements of objectives, not statements of work," she said, noting the objectives have an eye towards transforming agency telecom and IT.

Agencies have also faced challenges crafting transition plans from their old telecommunications contracts to EIS by the 2020 deadline, prompting talk among federal IT officials, as well as EIS contractors, to call for an extension.

Ely said a transition extension could be in the cards for some agencies if they put the work into transforming their networks, rather than aiming for a "like-for-like" replacement through EIS.

"We know in the back of our mind that extensions are out there," she said. If agencies go for a traditional, non-transformational approach, Ely said, they can craft that "like-for-like" solution through EIS by the deadline.

The day before the AFFIRM panel on July 26, the GSA inspector general issued a report critical of the agency's Transactional Data Reporting pilot program. The pilot is intended to voluntarily collect pricing data, including prices paid by government customers, for products and services sold under GSA contracts. The data could even out pricing for federal buyers.

The IG report said the pilot's metrics won't allow the agency to accurately measure how TDR data could improve the value of the agency's multiple award schedules. It lacks performance targets, and a majority of metrics depend on data that is not available for use.

The IG recommended GSA set performance targets for each metric used in the pilot and make sure the data is available and accurate.

Thomas said GSA was "appreciative" of the IG report feedback on the 36-month long TDR pilot, saying his agency was only halfway through it. It is "just getting to the point where data can be harnessed" with it. "We may make some tweaks based on the report," he said.


AFFIRM Contact:
Kristie Clement, Communications Committee


Washington, DC, July 9, 2018 — The Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) is awarding a total of $50,000 in grants to technology institutions for their work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and for striving to bridge the digital divide.

“Statistically, there are half as many African Americans and Hispanics in technology as in the rest of the private sector workforce,” said Adrian Gardner, President, AFFIRM.  “And only 20% of technology jobs are held by women across the board. As an association that supports government’s strong diversity and inclusion efforts, AFFIRM has selected five institutions for monetary contributions in light of their impact on technology’s most underrepresented groups.”


The five non-profit organizations receiving grants are as follows:

Black Girls CODE: With more than 1.4 million computing jobs expected to be available in the US by 2020, Black Girls Code aims to diversify the computer sciences field with the smarts, talent, and creativity of young women of color, who have been historically underrepresented in STEM careers.  Learn more at

Hispanic Heritage Foundation:  Established by the White House in 1987, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation is an award-winning non-profit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities.  Learn more at

UrbanEd: For children, youth and adults in the District of Columbia, UrbanEd provides technology-driven education, information and skill development for sustained futures.  Learn more at

Year Up: Working to close the Opportunity Divide, Year Up provides young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.  Learn more at

University of Maryland University College Foundation: UMUC primarily serves non-traditional students, who are working adults, veterans and active duty military. Learn more at

The Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) is a non-profit, volunteer, educational organization whose overall purpose is to improve the management of information, and related systems and resources, within the Federal government. Founded in 1979, and based in the Washington, DC area, AFFIRM's members include information resource management professionals from the Federal, academic, and industry sectors.  For more information, go to and follow @affirmtweets.



AFFIRM Contact:
Kristie Clement, Communications Committee


Washington, DC, May 10, 2018 — The Association for Federal Information Resources Management announced the government and industry leaders selected to receive the 39th annual AFFIRM Leadership Awards.

The AFFIRM Leadership Awards are among the most prestigious of the Federal community, honoring individuals and teams for their outstanding leadership over the preceding year. First awarded in 1979, award honorees join a prestigious list of agency executives and managers.

The AFFIRM Leadership Awardees will be recognized and honored on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at the AFFIRM Annual Leadership Celebration, an after work reception from 6:00pm to 8:30pm, in the St. Regis Washington, DC. 

Award winners include:

Executive Leadership in Information Technology (Civilian)

Jeff Shilling, NCI Acting Chief Information Officer and Chief of NCI IT, National Cancer Institute

Executive Leadership Award for Industry - Large Business

Marc Mancher, Principal, Federal Strategy & Operations, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Rockstar Rookie

Harold Whitaker, IT Project Manager, Homeland Group, U.S. General Services Administration FEDSIM

Leadership Award for Service to the Citizen and the Country

Adriane Burton, Chief Information Officer, Health Resources and Services Administration

Leadership in Technology Innovation - Team

Maria Roat, Chief Information Officer; Guy Cavallo, Deputy Chief Information Officer; and Sanjay Gupta, Chief Technology Officer, U. S. Small Business Administration

Leadership in Technology Innovation - Individual

Michael Torres, Transformation Strategist - Federal HC Service Strategy Architect, Office of Personnel Management

Leadership In Cyber Security

Carlene Ileto, Executive Director, CDM Products and Services Delivery Management Office; U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Leadership in Mobile Computing Technology

Robert Kayl, Program Manager, Web & Mobile Technology, Solution Delivery Division, Defense Health Agency

Special Recognition -Team

Cyber Innovation Office at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Assured Identity, Leading Change with Mobile Assurance and Continuous Multi-Factor Authentication (CMFA), Defense Information Systems Agency

President's Award Public Sector

Dr. Barry C. West, DHS Senior Advisor and Department-wide Senior Accountable Official for Risk Management, U.S.  Department of Homeland Security

President's Award Private Sector

Dan Chenok, Executive Director, IBM Center for The Business of Government

To attend the AFFIRM Leadership Awards Celebration visit

The Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) is a non-profit, volunteer, educational organization whose overall purpose is to improve the management of information, and related systems and resources, within the Federal government. Founded in 1979, and based in the Washington, DC area, AFFIRM's members include information resource management professionals from the Federal, academic, and industry sectors.


For better cybersecurity, be nice to your CFO

Dereck Johnson
May 1, 2018

Nearly every federal employee, even those whose IT experience begins and ends at using a computer for work, is capable of contributing to the protection of U.S. government networks.

While CIOs and CISOs bring the expertise and experience needed to manage large IT enterprises, chief financial officers bring money and vision. Their control over an agency's budget requests and strategic planning process makes them gatekeepers whose support can often mean the difference between getting the necessary funding for critical cybersecurity priorities and simply making do.

"Why should I be collaborative with my CFO? That's where the money is," said Rod Turk, acting CIO of the Commerce Department at a May 1 event hosted by the Association of Government Accountants. "And frankly…if you start talking bits and bytes to your CFO, they're not going to understand. When they don't understand, guess what? You don't get the money."

Click here to continue reading this article. 

OMB has loftier goals in mind for technology business management

Nicole Ogrysko
Federal News Radio
May 1, 2018

The Trump administration wants agencies to gain a better line of sight into a chunk of the federal IT budget that’s simply categorized as “other” — and has no specific IT priority or value associated with it.

It’s that ambiguity that’s prompting the administration to adopt the Technology Business Management (TBM) framework governmentwide by fiscal 2022. It’s also why TBM implementation is one of 14 cross-agency priority goals the administration named in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).  According to the PMA, 84 percent of the president’s 2018 federal IT request was classified as “other.”

The cross-agency priority goal is a start, but the administration has more in store for the TBM initiative.

Agencies may eventually see a formal TBM mandate from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but for now, the administration is still in learning mode, Kelly Morrison, an OMB performance analyst, said Tuesday at the Association of Government Accountants’ CFO/CIO Summit in Washington.

Click here to continue reading this article. 

One Cybersecurity Metric To Dwell On

Aaron Boyd
May 1, 2018

Having a robust set of indicators is important to assessing an agency’s cybersecurity, but how long hackers have access to a network may be the most important, one federal IT official said.

In cybersecurity, the metric known as dwell time is the measure of how long it takes an organization to identify a breach from the time an adversary gains access. In 2017, the global average time to detection was 191 days, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM, down from 201 days in 2016.

For Rod Turk, Commerce Department acting chief information officer and former department chief information security officer, this metric can inform all the others.

“If you’re doing your work and you’re preventing things from getting into your organization, then guess what, your dwell time is near zero or at zero,” Turk said during a panel on cybersecurity Tuesday at the 2018 CFO/CIO Summit hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

Click here to continue reading this article. 

Centers of Excellence Are A 'Cultural Intervention' For USDA, Says CIO

Aaron Boyd

May 1, 2018

The Agriculture Department’s IT modernization push and partnership with the General Services Administration’s Centers of Excellence are changing its very culture, its chief information officer said Tuesday.

Agriculture CIO Gary Washington said the department is seeing renewed energy in its modernization efforts, as well as a change in strategic thinking from the top down. During a panel at the 2018 CFO/CIO Summit hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, he credited this transformation to the department’s work with the Centers of Excellence.

The department is the test agency for the first five centers, which each focus on different areas: customer experience, cloud adoption, infrastructure optimization, contact centers and service delivery analytics.

The centers are in the first phase, in which contractors assess the department’s current state in the focus areas and develop plans to strengthen the department’s posture in each. That work will take approximately six months, Washington said.

Click here to continue reading this article.

OMB, GSA leaders highlight Technology Business Management framework’s early wins

Carten Cordell

April 19, 2018

Federal leaders charged with helping agencies apply a new way to better track IT spending said the process is already paying dividends.

Officials from the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, gathered Thursday at an AFFIRM event, said though the implementation of the Technology Business Management framework is ongoing, early returns are showing the benefits of using the taxonomy.

“The portfolio value is massive,” said David Shive, GSA CIO. “It’s going to be different for every executive responsible technology or whatever business is running TBM.”

TBM proposes to provide greater transparency of IT spending by standardizing the data taxonomy across the technology enterprise and aligning an agency’s financial, IT and business operations. Experts believe this will result in big savings for agencies.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Retrained agency employees can be a key source of cybersecurity talent, NSC official says

Carten Cordell
March 8, 2018

As the government embraces new technology and looks for the right people to utilize it, federal agencies might have no choice but to develop unexpected sources of talent, a White House official said Thursday.

Estimates put the national cybersecurity labor shortage at approximately 285,000 open positions, said Tyson Meadors, the National Security Council’s director of cybersecurity policy. To fill at least some of those gaps in the federal government, officials should start looking to retrain their current employees, he said.

“One thing we know we need to do is create some kind of aptitude test that is targeted not toward the accession cyber, but from the retraining side,” he said. “So who is your accountant that could actually be a keyboard ninja. That is going to be where we are going to find our own sort of magical unicorns — inside our own organizations.”

Meadors spoke at the Association for Federal Information Resources Management’s Cybersecurity Summit, where the resounding message was that a significant dearth of cybersecurity talent presents agency officials with possibly a greater challenge than their IT modernization efforts.

Click here to continue reading the article.

It Takes More Than Tech Skills To Be a Strong Cyber Leader

Aaron Boyd
March 8, 2018

Becoming a successful cybersecurity executive requires more than just understanding the tech. If you want to rise through the ranks—either in government or in the private sector—it helps to have an education that goes beyond computer sciences.

“I got made fun of a lot: I actually have a degree in English,” Tyson Meadors, director of cybersecurity policy on the National Security Council, said during a keynote at the March 8 Annual Cybersecurity Summit hosted by the U.S. Cyber Challenge and the Association for Federal Information Resources Management. “Also in IT, computer science and cybersecurity—I have other degrees, too—but that English degree comes in real handy when you’re trying to explain what a memcached DDoS is to somebody who doesn’t know what ‘mem,’ ‘cached,’ ‘D,’ ‘D,’ ‘o,’ or ‘S’ means. So, ultimately that becomes a pretty important skill as you get higher up in your careers.”

In other words, it helps to be able to clearly explain how your systems were attacked when asking for money to remediate or prevent such attacks in the future.

Click here to continue reading this article.


Francesca El-Attrash
March 8, 2018

Cybersecurity is a dynamic and crosscutting field that is ever changing and increasingly challenging to address. At the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM)’s 5th Annual Cybersecurity Summit, government thought leaders gathered to explore growing threats as well as innovative approaches to attract and retain the best cyber talent.

Nicole Blake Johnson, Managing Editor at GovLoop, moderated a panel of federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) to discuss current cybersecurity priorities and how to attract, retain and train a dwindling pipeline of cyber talent. Speaking on the panel were:

-Max Everett, CIO at the Energy Department

-Joe Klimavicz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and CIO at the Justice Department

-Rodney Petersen, Director of the National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education (NICE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

-Howard Whyte, CIO at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Click here to continue reading this article.