Inside the Reporter's Notebook: Barry West returns, two CIOs leaving, Einstein cyber initiative faces delay

Monday - 3/11/2013, 5:31am EDT

Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio

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Welcome to my new feature, "Inside the Reporter's Notebook," where every two weeks I'll dispatch news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is neither a column nor commentary. It's news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities. As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at

Maybe it's just the time of the year, but the game of musical chairs across the government technology community continues to churn.

Barry West is back for his fourth stint as a chief information officer.

Jeff Huskey and Jill Singer are out as CIOs.

Scott Quehl has taken his green eye shade home.

And the Office of Management and Budget's right-hand man is calling it a career.

Let's start with West. Sources confirmed he will take over at the CIO at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on March 25.

West had been an executive vice president with SE Solutions since January 2008. The company provides management consulting services and technology services.

This will be West's four gig as a CIO, previously he led the technology offices at the National Weather Service, FEMA and the Commerce Department.

At PBGC, he takes over for Vidhya Shyamsunder, who has been the acting CIO for the past few years.

Just as West is returning, Huskey is leaving the Federal Trade Commission and Singer is leaving the National Reconnaissance Office as CIOs, respectively.

Both agencies confirmed changes at the top of the technology org chart, but a spokesman from each agency couldn't offer any more details on the why, where each is heading next and who takes over even in the interim.

Huskey joined the FTC in March 2011 and previously spent time with the Navy Installations Command. During his tenure, Huskey led the effort to update FTC's infrastructure to better support telework and be more efficient.

Singer has been the CIO at the NRO since January 2010. She also worked at the State Department and for the CIA during her career.

Quehl decided three-plus years as chief financial officer and assistant secretary for administration of the Commerce Department was enough and left at the end of January.

This was his second stint in government, having worked for OMB as a special assistant to the controller during President Clinton's administration.

Quehl wore many hats, but has become known for his collaboration with Commerce's CIO Simon Szykman to save more than $200 million in administrative costs over the last two years.

Finally, maybe the biggest loss is of Keith Thurston, the General Services Administration's assistant associate administrator for electronic government in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. Thurston will retire in April after more than 37 years in government, including the last 23 at GSA.

Thurston long has been considered the go-to person for OMB to get technology and policy efforts moving forward. Thurston, who also worked at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy before moving to OCSIT, has been the career executive OMB relied on to explain how to get things done, including, and a host of other key IT initiatives over the years.

Cuts from sequestration are going to further delay the implementation of the Einstein cybersecurity program.

Homeland Security Department's Secretary Janet Napolitano said during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing Thursday that Einstein 3, now known at E3A, will be delayed by about a year because of the across-the-board cuts.

"Sequester reductions will require us to scale back the development of critical capabilities for the defense of federal cyber networks," Napolitano said. "It will disrupt long-term efforts to grow our cybersecurity workforce."

DHS tested the technology behind E3A in 2010 and has plans to deploy it across the government. According to the Privacy Impact Assessment on the Initiative Three Exercise — the pilot of E3A — the purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate the ability of an existing Internet Service Provider that is a designated as a Trusted Internet Connection Access Provider (TICAP) to select and redirect Internet traffic from a single participating government agency through the E3A technology. Also, U.S.-CERT would apply intrusion detection and prevention measures to that traffic and generate automated alerts about selected cyber threats.