FAA's deputy CIO Cooper to leave government

Friday - 1/25/2013, 6:35pm EST

Steve Cooper, the Federal Aviation Administration's deputy chief information officer, is retiring from federal service Jan. 31.

Cooper confirmed his decision to Federal News Radio, saying he was taking an early buyout from the FAA.

"I'll probably take the weekend and move back into the private sector," he said. "One of the things I will do is go back into the Strativest group. I had to take a leave of absence from that when I came to the FAA. The other thing I want to explore further, which I enjoy, but don't know if I can make a lot of money at, is teaching. I've been doing it as an adjunct professor or guest lecturer."

Cooper said Tina Amereihn, who has been the FAA's CIO since last summer, may not appoint a new deputy CIO as she is reorganizing the agency's technology management infrastructure.

He's been the FAA deputy CIO since October 2011 and has been with the agency since September 2009 when he joined as the CIO of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO).

Cooper has been in and out of government since 2002 when President George W. Bush appointed him as a special adviser in the White House and then the first CIO for the Homeland Security Department.

During his tenure at the FAA, Cooper promoted mobile computing, including testing tablet computers and moving to a virtualized desktop.

"I loved working for the FAA," Cooper said. "I believe I've appreciated the opportunity to serve or give back now more than if it was earlier in my career," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it and if I had a few less unmarried daughters I'd stick around, but I have to make some money. FAA was very different than service at DHS and White House. The reason I took job was this was a frontline organization. ATO was an opportunity to be up-close and personal with the only organization that manages nation's air system."

Once back in the private sector, Cooper will help small and medium-sized companies work with the federal government.

"We want to help small companies with their business or go-to-market strategies, or help them team with larger businesses who already are doing business with federal agencies," he said. "Cracking the federal environment can be tough to win your first few contracts. Oftentimes the best way is to team with a company already doing business or has the past performance so we will help companies figure out who is the best to team with."

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