A central figure in 18F IG report to leave government

Aaron Snow, one of the key figures at the center of the recent damning inspector general report on the General Services Administration’s 18F organization, is leaving government on Feb. 28.

In an email obtained by Federal News Radio, Snow said family and other events have sped up his timeline to leave.

“Remember what matters and what doesn’t, and keep delivering on our mission of helping government to become a better builder and buyer of digital services that touch and shape the public’s lives,” Snow wrote. “The rest, as they say, is commentary.”

Snow said it was “the honor of my life” to serve in the government and he encouraged the 18F staff to be “unabashedly proud of the supposedly impossible things we’ve done in three short years.”

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Rob Cook, commissioner of the Technology Transformation Service, confirmed Snow is leaving the agency.

“He had a 4-year renewable term and his term is up shortly anyways so he has been looking for a new position,” Cook said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “He is leaving on Feb. 28 for another job. It is part of the normal cycle here.”

Multiple emails to Snow were not immediately returned.

Snow was the co-founder and served as deputy executive director of 18F until October. He has been a senior advisor for the Technology Transformation Service since moving out of 18F.

Snow was one of several GSA executives to come under scrutiny by auditors for what the IG called management and oversight failures.

“We found that [former commissioner of the Technology Transformation Service Phaedra] Chrousos and [Deputy Executive Director of 18F Aaron] Snow failed to provide adequate oversight and guidance to subordinates, particularly to the 18F Director of Infrastructure, who was responsible for security, compliance with GSA IT policies and for providing technical advice and direction,” the IG wrote in the report issued Feb. 21. “Ultimately, Chrousos’ and Snow’s indifference to GSA IT policies contributed to the compliance breakdown.”

This was the second IG report highlighting 18F’s misdeeds in not following agency and federal IT, security and acquisition policies and regulations.

The first report from October found 18F disregarded acquisition and financial management policies, and hired employees at an unsustainable rate.

Snow told Government CIO magazine in January during a video interview one of 18F’s biggest challenges has been trying to “make space for risk taking and unapproved initiatives in a place that expects planning, rigidity and predictability.”

He said 18F has come up with services and products that are helping citizens and businesses interact with the government.

“It’s not always easy to square that with the expectation of how a government office is or should be run,” he said. “But we think we are slowly changing minds about that too.”

Snow credited a lot of 18F’s success due to its ability to recruit great people and the strategy to deliver results quickly has helped 18F grow.

“We are a digital services office, but what we are really here to do is to help change how the federal government does its building, buying and sharing of digital services. This is a transformation effort over time intended to transform the practices, methodologies and the culture of how folks deliver digital services in government.”

He said one of 18F’s success metrics is when agencies they are working with begin to use agile methods on another unrelated project because it signals the customer agency found value in 18F’s approach.

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