INSIDE THE REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: FEMA to name Gardner as CIO; new DHS CIO close; NASA struggles with HSPD-12

Monday - 9/16/2013, 6:12am EDT

"Inside the Reporter's Notebook," is a bi-weekly dispatch of 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

Adrian Gardner is taking another major step in his career. Luke McCormack looks to be heading back to his former agency.

Government and industry sources confirm Gardner is slated to become the new chief information officer at FEMA.

Sources say McCormack, who currently is the Justice Department CIO, is strongly rumored to be the next DHS CIO. It's not a done deal, but it's very close and could be announced in the next few weeks, multiple source say.

Gardner has been the NASA Goddard Space Center CIO since January 2010. Before that, he was the CIO at the National Weather Service.

A FEMA spokesman would not confirm Gardner's hiring and said there were no personnel announcements at this time.

But multiple sources say Gardner notified his staff at Goddard earlier this week that he was moving on to FEMA. Multiple emails to Gardner also were not answered.

He will replace Jeanne Etzel, who left to work for the Homeland Security Department's CIO's office in March.

In moving to FEMA, Gardner will take on a much bigger budget and portfolio of IT investments. According to the federal IT Dashboard, FEMA has 20 major IT investments worth more than $90 million. FEMA's biggest program is the $36.8 million investment in infrastructure maintenance. The total spending on IT this year is about $148 million.

McCormack left DHS as the Immigration and Custom Enforcement directorate CIO to take the Justice CIO job in February 2012.

McCormack would replace Richard Spires , who left amid controversy in May.

A former fed who landed in the private sector is Bruce McConnell, who left his second stint in government in July after spending more than four years in an assortment of senior cybersecurity positions at DHS. He joined the EastWest Institute Sept. 9 as a senior vice president.

The institute said in a release that McConnell will lead efforts to promote cooperation in cyberspace, including governance and development issues. He also will lead EWI's efforts to improve its private-public sector relationships.

While Gardner, McConnell and possibly McCormack are finding new homes, several long-time federal employees called it a career.

The National Institute of Health's Mary Armstead retired after 40 years in government. Armstead was the acting associate director of the Office of Acquisition Management and Policy at NIH. She ran the governmentwide technology contracts, including CIO-SP3, and other acquisition programs.

She spent most of her career in the acquisition or acquisition management field, starting as a clerk typist in the 1973 and moving through the ranks to senior management positions.

Armstead said she is undecided what her future will include, but she imagines she will remain active in the federal community.

Michael Wood joined Armstead in retiring after a long career in government. The former Recovery Board executive director retired in August after more than 39 years of service.

Ross Bezark, Wood's former chief of staff, replaces him as executive director of the Recovery Board. Bezark also was the executive director of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GATB) and worked with the U.S. Marshals service.

Wood plans to launch his own firm to consult with government and industry about data standards, information sharing and transparency issues.

NASA is way behind on implementing Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 and using the smart identity cards to log on to computer networks. In fact, NASA was going to fall well short of its commitment to the Office of Management and Budget to have 20 percent of all workers using their smart ID cards for logical access by Sept. 30, according to government sources.

So new CIO Larry Sweet told OMB the space agency would reach 10 percent by Sept. 30, 20 percent by Dec. 31 and 50 percent by the end of fiscal 2014.

According to NASA's HSPD-12 report from June 2013, more than 18,000 employees have smart ID cards and fewer than 500 still need them. The report doesn't include use of the smart cards for physical or logical access, however.