Martha Dorris, a long-time and well-respected member of the federal technology community, is retiring after 34 years in government.
Dorris, the General Services Administration’s director of the Office of Strategic Programs within the Office of Integrated Technology Services, announced her decision to leave government at the end of October on her Facebook page Sept. 30.
Dorris said she plans to start her own consulting business focusing on customer service and improving the customer experience for government and industry alike.
“Over the last six months learned so many new things and better appreciation for what GSA does, but I know there are bigger things out there for me and I want to give it a try,” Dorris said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “I’m in a position to take a risk. I have my retirement, but I still have to work. Starting my own business is nothing that I’ve done before but I will try it and see where it goes.”
Dorris said she plans to take some time off, do some traveling and then start her business in early 2016.
Dorris, who spent her entire career at GSA except for a short stint in the private sector, took a detail to the Office of Strategic Programs in May, and previously served as director of the Office of Innovative Technologies in GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.
Most recently, Dorris is spearheading a pilot called Feedback USA, which lets federal customers give instant reviews – on a purely voluntary basis – through automated kiosks installed at State Department passport locations and Social Security offices about the federal customer experiences they’ve just gone through.
Customer service has been a common theme throughout her career.
Dorris was a finalist in 2013 for a Service to America Medal in the Citizen Services category for her work in creating and improving USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov.
“I feel like my contribution there was taking bunch of different delivery channels and repackaging it and getting people to understand that we have to provide an integrated set of delivery channels for the citizen,” she said. “It was about the citizen and how they want to get information whether by phone or online or in many other ways.”
Dorris also said she’s especially proud of her work to bring intergovernmental chief information officers together.
She said she started the North American CIO meeting nearly 15 years ago with Frank McDonough, and it continues with annual meetings of the federal CIOs of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Dorris also was the president of the American Council for Technology (ACT) and held numerous board positions over the past decade, and was senior advisor to the Board for the International Council for IT in Government Administration (ICA).
“I had been going back and forth between leaving at the end of October and the end of December, but I thought it was time to take everything I’ve learned and be my own boss,” Dorris said. “I’ve been through lot of administrations and they’ve all been good, but I felt this was this was one of the few times when you can take a risk and try something new. I feel scared. I feel happy and excited. I’m jumping into the deep end and don’t have a life jacket.”