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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Memo: USDA prepared for CIO, CFO vacancies

The Agriculture Department has experienced a number of resignations and retirements recently among its executives in the offices of the chief information officer and chief financial officer, and some employees have expressed concern over the vacancies, said CIO/CFO Charles Christopherson Jr.

Many Senior Executive Service employees are eligible to retire, so the vacancies came as no great surprise, Christopherson said in a Jan. 22 internal memo that Federal Computer Week obtained, in which he laid out interim plans.

He also named Chris Smith as acting deputy CIO and Jon Holladay as acting deputy CFO.

“Experienced senior executives know that change often creates attrition of key individuals,” Christopherson said in the memo to CIO and CFO employees. He said he discussed the potential impact of the changes with the office of Acting Secretary Chuck Connor.

Christopherson said he expects the changes will create an organization that will mitigate the risk of cybersecurity and exposure of personally identifiable information, provide better vision for hardware and software architecture, and allow agencies to focus less on federal requirements and more on citizens to support USDA programs. The area where he expects a small void is the review of documents and the answering of questions that current SES managers provide.

In preparation for personnel changes, some higher-grade-level employees in the CFO and CIO offices have received advanced training, such as Lean Six Sigma classes, and their projects can be used as examples for SES qualification requirements, Christopherson said. Lean Six Sigma is an approach to business process improvement that helps managers implement programs faster and reduce costs through continuous improvements. USDA is prepared with employees who are qualified for interim management and to compete for the vacant positions, he said.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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