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FCW : March 15, 2013
Linda Cureton again lack the initiative to innovate. "It might be what I m most proud of during my tenure," she said. While Cureton was in charge, NASA s IT budget decreased sharply from a high of $2.2 billion. The agency is in good shape now thanks in part to smarter contracting, Cureton said. She noted that the agency s contract with Hewlett-Packard to modernize and manage NASA s end-user infra- structure, including desktop comput- ing and other devices, is expected to save at least $60 million. The agency also insourced its call center by creating an enterprise serv- ice desk to act as a central hub to answer questions, thereby building on its efforts to be "customer obsessed." Before that, response times were mea- sured in hours, not seconds, which is not good for customer satisfaction, Cureton said. "There is a delicate balance between innovating and maintain- ing," she said. "Any organization that focuses only on what it is supposed to do and nothing else will ultimately fail. But if you re not doing your bread-and- butter stuff well, people don t want to look to you for anything else, espe- cially innovation." Each of those efforts is a microcosm of NASA s broad plan to become more ef cient in its IT infrastructure spend- ing, which was solidi ed through the agency s IT Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P). The goal of the pro- gram, which Cureton called "tremen- dously risky and daunting," was to integrate IT across the agency "into something cohesive and central" by consolidating services. I3P has boosted IT efficiency, improved IT security and revamped the agency s procurement processes. Some of the steps were dif cult and fraught with terror, Cureton said, but they helped pave the way for an inno- vative future at NASA long after she is gone. "Do we have more to do?" she asked. "Yes, but we re going to con- tinue making those improvements." What's next for Cureton Before her time at NASA --- rst as CIO of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, then as agencywide CIO --- Cureton worked at the departments of Energy and Justice, the Of ce of Sci- ence and Technology Policy, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She has made many connections in the IT community during her career, and though she plans to vacation on a warm beach somewhere for a few weeks after her official retirement, Cureton does not intend to stay away from work for long. She is already plan- ning to write another book to follow "The Leadership Muse," a sort of how- to guide for leaders. "I don t feel so much like I m leaving the government; I feel more like I m going to some different place," Cureton said. "I don t want to turn into a pillar of salt. I want to leverage what I ve learned. There is a lot I can give. I don t see myself sitting in a rocking chair." A native of Washington, D.C., Cure- ton attended public schools in the area before enrolling at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where she played the piano, trumpet and French horn. She still plays music on occasion and would like to do it more often. She credits the connection between music and mathematics for her success in sci- ence and technology. Many are calling Cureton s retire- ment a loss not only for NASA but for the public sector as a whole. "Linda brought a humanistic per- spective to all she did in her CIO role at NASA and her involvement in the fed- eral CIO Council," said Richard Spires, CIO at the Department of Homeland Security. "She pushed hard on how to more effectively lead, manage and develop people. I want to thank her for her leadership of the Strategy and Plan- ning Committee of the CIO Council and her years of service to this government. She will certainly be missed." Cureton was successful in her NASA CIO role "because she thinks differ- ently and not like everyone else," said Robert Bruce, senior executive of cer at GTI Federal and a longtime friend of Cureton s. Those traits stand out in government, he said, adding, "I was aware of who she was before I ever met her." Cureton has not yet accepted any job offers, though she will likely have plenty of options. Bob Woods, president of Topside Consulting Group, said he hopes she lands on the industry side. He con- siders Cureton a friend and said he has long been impressed by her can- didness and social-media savvy. He believes she has much more insight to share with the IT world. "Any organization that focuses only on what it is supposed to do and nothing else will ultimately fail." 20 March 15, 2013 FCW.COM
March 30, 2013