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FCW : November and December 2014
Rising Stars 18 November/December 2014 FCW.COM day, frustrating users with long wait times for support. Other nagging problems included a lack of standardized incident response procedures, prolonged service interruptions and resource constraints that kept managers from hiring more people to help handle the issues. In his relatively short time at the agency, Bragg has transformed HSIN service operations and spurred his team’s performance to the point where it is proactively tackling issues instead of reacting to them. A key to that turnaround was Bragg’s talent for untangling thorny issues that had vexed even seasoned fed- eral employees, his managers said. “I deal with operations and procedures — the ‘how,’” Bragg wrote in a recent HSIN blog post. “For a platform like HSIN that works to break down the barriers to information sharing between agencies, security and usability are equally impor- tant. It all comes down to trust. And HSIN is just that, a network of trust.” Thanks to Bragg’s leadership, HSIN has seen a 33 percent decrease in open help-desk tickets and a 41 percent reduc- tion in unresolved system defects. He has also championed network optimization efforts that have resulted in an average 99.7 percent HSIN availability and a 45 percent increase in new user registra- tions since the technical refresh. — Mark Rockwell Cristen Cole Just four years into her career, Cristen Cole has been responsible for over- seeing more than $65 billion worth of gov- ernment contracts. After completing an early-career professional development program at the General Services Admin- istration and cycling through various programs and offices at GSA, she realized she liked the challenges that the Federal Systems Integration and Management Center posed. Now, as an IT project manager for FEDSIM, she manages the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnos- tics and Mitigation program portfolio, and she single-handedly provided program management for the entire CDM portfolio in its first year. According to Danny Toler, deputy director of federal network resilience at DHS, Cole’s “tireless dedication to task resulted in putting automated monitoring tools in the hands of 21 federal agencies.” John Streufert, director of federal net- work resilience at DHS, said Cole’s efforts have been “unwavering, tireless and highly valued from the moment she was assigned by GSA to support the program.” However, Cole might be best known for managing a FEDSIM award that resulted in prices that were an average of 30 percent lower than GSA’s Schedule 70. It was the largest Schedule 70 vehicle ever developed and the largest one FEDSIM had ever awarded, and it saved taxpayers more than $21 million. She also meets with government and industry leaders and represents the FEDSIM program at large events. Such public-facing efforts are a new challenge, but she said she’s building her comfort level. “Having a passion for it helps me to go up there and be able to show the critical- ity of what we’re trying to do,” Cole said. “It’s easier to support the FEDSIM pro- gram when I like what I’m doing.” — Colby Hochmuth Shawn Garrow Although he is well-versed in IT, Shawn Garrow often prefers working on the policy to shape it rather than on the technology itself. “The technology shouldn’t drive the policy, but rather the policy should be dictating where we go with our investments and operations,” said Garrow, a division head for the Navy’s Tenth Fleet. As advanced as some IT systems are, he added, they still play a support function to an overarching policy to better secure networks. Garrow has been involved in the Navy’s biggest IT projects in recent years, including the Next Generation Enterprise Network and the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment. He did most of his work on NGEN, an acquisition vehicle for the Navy’s intranet, before the contract was awarded. He evaluated the Navy’s goals for the intranet and the poli- cies needed to achieve those goals. Now he is a significant player in the Navy’s contributions to JIE, a broad effort by the Pentagon to standardize and mod- ernize IT systems and networks. Garrow said the job entails “taking a look at all of the operational concepts of operations... and ensuring that Navy’s equities are appropriately represented in that body.” Like other Rising Stars, Garrow’s sharp IT and management skills are often pitted against a rather cumbersome acquisition process. “One of the large challenges is balanc- ing capacity against demand and the ability to ensure that our acquisition cycle can move at an accelerated pace,” he said. And that cycle “doesn’t necessarily align to the threats that are posed by our adversaries.” — Sean Lyngaas Michael Gross Michael Gross is a fresh face in federal IT, but he’s proven himself to be a quick study. As an IT audi- tor at the U.S . Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, he helps monitor one of the largest computing infrastructures in the federal government. The job isn’t just about targeting waste, fraud and abuse, Gross said. “I try to provide a lot of value-added services: making sure that projects are on track, on target and going to meet the needs of the Postal Service,” he added. “We look for places where they can improve operations, generate more revenue and improve customer services.” Gross comes by his IT chops via the Marine Corps. During his four-year stint, including a year in Iraq, he specialized in telecommunications and then studied accounting at the University of Wiscon- sin-River Falls. In his first months at USPS — and while still earning his auditor cer- tification — he distilled the 600-page Fed- eral Information System Controls Audit Manual into a database that allows users to drill down from top-level concepts to