White House appoints Evans to head e-gov initiatives

President Bush plans to appoint Karen Evans, CIO at US the Department of Energy, to become the new head of the administration's e-government initiatives, the White House announced this week.

Evans, a 20-year veteran of the government IT community, will succeed Mark Forman, who last month left the post of administrator of the Office of Electronic Government at the White House's Office of Management and Budget to work in the private sector.

The pending appointment of Evans is getting strong support from private-sector executives.

"In the technology arena, there are those who get it and those who get it done. Karen Evans is one of those highly valued leaders who possess both essential qualities," said Bill Conner, CEO of Entrust in Addison, Texas. "Given her experience at the US Department of Energy and leadership on the (federal) CIO Council, Karen knows firsthand what it takes to successfully execute the strategy and architecture that she played a role in developing with Mark Forman and his team," Conner said in a statement.

Norm Lorentz, the government's chief technology officer, who took over Forman's post on an interim basis, called Evans a "great selection."

Lorentz said the quickness of the appointment shows that the administration understands the importance of the e-government program.

Jim Kane, CEO of McLean, Virginia-based Federal Sources , a research and analysis firm that focuses on the federal IT market, said Evans' appointment could help advance the government's IT agenda.

"Karen is the right person in the right job at the right time," said Kane. "Mark (Forman) was the visionary, the change agent. But things are now at the stage where somebody like Karen, who has a strong operational perspective, is the right person to make things happen."

Kane added that having Evans in this position is probably going to strengthen the position of the e-government administrator, which is essentially the de facto federal CIO.

In the early years of Forman's tenure, there was tension between the CIO Council, on which Evans served as co-chairman, and the Office of Management and Budget, Kane said.

In those days, "OMB was a bit of a bystander, while the CIO Council was setting the agenda," said Kane.

"Forman, to his credit, was marching to the beat of the president's management agenda. But (Evans') appointment can neutralize that tension" by bringing her fellow CIOs on board with the larger e-government agenda, he said.

The timing of the appointment coincides with one of the most critical spending and budgeting times for the government. Typically, spending in September can account for as much as 25 % of the government's overall IT budget, because agencies must begin submitting funding requests for new budgets in October and must spend any remaining IT dollars before they're lost.

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