Long-time Education CIO, VA acquisition execs retire

A nother chief information officer is calling it a career.

Jerry Williams, the CIO at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, will leave government March 31 after about 31 years of service.

“There is no good time to leave government, but if you are going to do it, it’s like diving in to the pool so all the thinking about it doesn’t help and eventually you have to just jump in the water,” Williams said in an interview.

Williams will not be going too far away. He’ll become the CEO of an IT services firm called Ryan.

“My decision to go to Ryan is a result of a conversation between me and the owner and I just decided that this is the one I like to do,” he said.

Who will be the interim FSA CIO has yet to be determined, according to Williams.

He becomes another in a long-list of long-time federal technology officials to leave government.

During his career, Williams worked in seven different federal organizations. He’s been CIO at FSA since April 2013.

Before coming to FSA, Williams was the CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also worked at the departments of Agriculture and Interior, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Management and Budget in senior IT and financial management positions.

Williams said he plans to take a month off before starting his new position with Ryan.

While Williams’ decision to retire was his own, a key procurement figure at the Veterans Affairs Department saw the handwriting on the wall and called it quits.

Glenn Haggstrom, the VA’s principal executive director in the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, stepped down quietly March 25 after pressure mounted over cost overruns at a VA hospital in Colorado.

While Haggstrom was not the program manager or the procurement official for the Aurora, Colorado, project that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, he was the supervising official over all of the agency’s construction portfolio.

Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) were pleased to see Haggstrom leave government. Polis’ release was brief: “Good riddance.”

Miller wrote that Haggstrom tried to do a good job but didn’t succeed, and he shouldn’t be rewarded by receiving his full retirement benefits.

“Every single member of VA’s top leadership is fully aware of the department’s construction problems, yet none made any attempt to fire Haggstrom — a fact that speaks volumes about the department’s commitment to accountability,” Miller wrote. “To be sure, Haggstrom is not the only VA employee responsible for the department’s construction failures. More housecleaning will surely be needed if the department is to ever get its construction affairs in order. If there is anything in current law preventing VA from swiftly holding its employees accountable, the department should say so, because the parade of VA executives who retire or resign in lieu of any form of accountability is nothing short of insulting to veterans and taxpayers.”

Haggstrom served in government for 34 years, including the last six-plus at VA. He also was the director of the Office of Procurement and Property Management for the Department of Agriculture and served in the Air Force, rising to become a second lieutenant.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.

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