Labor, GSA losing IT, customer service executives

The Labor Department and the General Services Administration are losing key executives.

Dawn Leaf, the Labor Department’s chief information officer, is hanging up her IT shingle after more than 17 years in government, including the last four leading the agency’s IT efforts.

MaryAnn Monroe, the director of customer experience and chief of staff for public experience/USAGov in the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) is leaving the government to join the private sector.

Monroe announced on Sept. 2 that she would join e-Gain, a cloud provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions, as director of customer success for federal.

Leaf’s decision to retire is a little surprising given how much success she’s had in transforming Labor IT infrastructure.

Dawn Leaf, the Labor Department CIO,  is retiring after spending 17 years in government.
Dawn Leaf, the Labor Department CIO, is retiring after spending 17 years in government.

She said in a 2014 Ask the CIO interview that Labor faced a flat or decreasing IT budget over the last five years and has a huge backlog of modernization needs.

By 2016, Leaf had moved the needle, reducing Labor’s spending on legacy systems to 54 percent while increasing the amount spent on cloud or provisioned services to almost 32 percent. Labor’s IT budget also increased to $714 million in in 2016 from $667 million in in 2015, according to the Office of Management and Budget. For 2017, Labor requested $759 million.

Part of the way she was able do to that is by consolidating nine different infrastructures. In February, Leaf said Labor planned on moving to platform-as-a-service and recently hired branch chiefs to oversee software-as-a-service and application-as-a-service in the department.

One area where Leaf has received the brunt of the struggles is around implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). Labor was one of two agencies that had trouble finalizing their FITARA implementation plans.

Federal chief information officer Tony Scott eventually had to issue additional FITARA guidance in May for statistical agencies such as Labor.

Leaf told me her last day is Sept. 30 and she is leaving on good terms. Leaf joined Labor in 2012 after spending the previous two-plus years leading federal cloud computing efforts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Labor deputy CIO Gundeep Ahluwalia is expected to be take over as acting CIO after Leaf retires. Ahluwalia joined Labor in August after working the last four years at the Food and Drug Administration.

FCW first reported Leaf’s plans to retire.

As for Monroe, her decision to leave is more about a private sector opportunity. She has been with GSA for five years and worked 10 years with the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

Martha Dorris, founder of Dorris Consulting International and former co-worker of Monroe’s at GSA, said the office had a common passion of improving service to the public.

“MaryAnn was one of the early adopters of customer experience in the government and has truly made a difference,” Dorris said. “Her commitment and dedication to the citizen through her work in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies will leave a long lasting impact.”

During her time at GSA, Monroe helped improve the quality of the service provided by the USAGov Contact Center through the use of data analysis and reporting, user experience and customer experience management. She also lead the effort to restructure the USAGov organizational structure to create cross-functional teams to better serve their customers.

While Leaf and Monroe decided to leave government, Renee Forney quietly moved to the Energy Department in June to be its acting deputy CIO for cybersecurity. She joined Energy after spending the last three years as the Homeland Security Department’s executive director for the DHS CyberSkills Management Support Initiative (CMSI).

In her previous role, Forney led the effort to create tools to make hiring cyber workers easier.

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