Cook leaving as TTS director for new role in GSA

Alan Thomas, the Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, announced Rob Cook would join GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy as its chief innovation adviser...

Rob Cook is out as director of the Technology Transformation Service at the General Services Administration.

Alan Thomas, the Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner, announced Monday Cook “has been asked” to join GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy as its chief innovation adviser.

Thomas said in an email obtained by Federal News Radio that Joanne Collins Smee would serve as acting TTS director and deputy commissioner of FAS.

“Joanne is standing up the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence in partnership with OAI and will continue to perform that work in leading TTS,” Thomas wrote to staff. “She joined FAS in September after a successful career in the private sector with IBM, rising from an individual contributor as a software developer to becoming a senior executive leading thousands of people delivering solutions for commercial clients across the globe. TTS will continue to flourish under Joanne’s leadership.”

Cook came to TTS in October 2016 after spending his entire career in the private sector. He came to TTS with a lot of expectation, bringing experience in technology and software engineering and development.

GSA created TTS in May 2016, bringing its 18F, Presidential Innovation Fellows program and the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) — now the Office of Products and Programs  —under the new service.

After less than a year, GSA changed its vision of TTS and moved it under the Federal Acquisition Service and Cook became a deputy commissioner.

Cook’s departure from TTS surprised several agency sources. One said this was an “unexpected” reshuffling of personnel.

Thomas praised Cook’s help during the FAS-TTS merger.

“Rob brought tremendous passion and commitment to his role as director of TTS and the deputy commissioner of FAS,” Thomas wrote. “I appreciate all that he has done in this leadership role.”

Along with Cook and Smee, Thomas announced two other changes.

Bill Zielinski is the new deputy assistant commissioner of the Information Technology Category (ITC), taking over for Kay Ely, who was promoted to assistant commissioner in September in another round of personnel changes Thomas implemented.

“As a former federal CIO, Bill is a trusted adviser to our agency and industry partners and will continue to be instrumental in our implementation of key administration technology modernization efforts,” Thomas wrote. Additionally, Crystal Philcox is the new director of IT Services within ITC. Philcox had been assistant commissioner for operations in TTS since January.

“Crystal was instrumental in building and adopting a set of sound business practices within TTS that helped ensure a smooth merger and I am thankful for her many lasting contributions,” Thomas wrote. “A principal reason for bringing TTS within FAS was to amplify the impact of the talented people in TTS. We are doing that with Crystal as in her new role she will serve as a key external face to industry and be responsible for $14 billion-plus in annual IT services spending that flows through GSA contract vehicles.”

Thomas’ changes come as President Donald Trump is expected to sign the fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill today. In it is the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which would give GSA a larger role in the governmentwide effort to get off legacy IT systems.

Thomas said these changes would “better align FAS to support the administration’s focus on innovation and modernization.”

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