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FCW : March 15, 2013
employee of NRL and eventually moved to the National Weather Service to work on modernizing the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, which became one of his favorite projects. Amid rumors of possible staff reductions at NWS, he applied for an opening at GAO and was hired as an assistant director in 1997. "Our core values [at GAO] are accountability, integrity and reliability," Persons said. "Naba embodies those values; he lives for those values as an IT leader. He s very much a person interested in helping the nation do the right thing on IT [and] just generally technology issues. What gets him up in the morning is the idea that he works in a senior leadership position in arguably the most trusted agency in all of government, respected in terms of truth telling and [being] non-agenda driven." Enthusiasm and credibility When GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro hired Persons and appointed him and Barkakati co-directors of CSTE, some Beltway observers might have expected the men to ght over who would control the team. Instead, the sec- ond email message Persons received --- after the one from human resources --- was a note from Barkakati express- ing his excitement about working with Persons, who soon realized that this was typical behavior for his colleague. "He s eager to empower and delegate to people," Persons said. "In conversations, he s typically encouraging; he s gra- cious. Even if somebody has done something colossally wrong, there s a way he conveys that while preserving human dignity and building the person up." Barkakati s low-key management style masks a steely backbone when the time comes to make tough calls, accord- ing to his boss, Nancy Kingsbury, managing director of ARM. She cited Barkakati s deft handling of a recent "tough per- sonnel decision that required both institutional savvy and a certain amount of backbone to stand up to the pressures that were being brought." He is open to new ways of doing things and enthusiastic about the work, so people typically respond positively to him, Kingsbury said. "He s so knowledgeable about every- thing in the technical world that he has a lot of credibility," she added. As a testament to his reputation, Congress called Barka- kati to testify about the source code for electronic voting machines and 18,000 missing votes in a Florida congres- sional race during the contested 2006 election. "There are many science and technology leaders who can have extremely large egos, so it actually gets in the way of getting the right thing done for all," Persons said. "Naba is the opposite of that, and I think that s what makes him extraordinary." ■ March 15, 2013 FCW.COM 25 Topics include: New demands drive network investments Network modernization: Where to begin? Wireless gets ready for prime-time Agencies prep for cloud complexity Voice, video poised for impact NETWORK TRANSFORMATION AND MODERNIZATION Read the full report at: FCW.COM/2013NetworkTransMod RESEARCH REPORT Sponsored by CDWG and EMC
March 30, 2013