IT Confidential: (I Wish I Had Some) Friends In High Places - InformationWeek
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John Soat
John Soat

IT Confidential: (I Wish I Had Some) Friends In High Places

Wonderful things happen when an idea gets support it needs

Friends In High Places, Part 1: This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is expected to name the members of his new Health IT Leadership Panel. No names so far. Plans for the panel were revealed at the federal Health IT summit two weeks ago. The panel will be charged with "assessing the costs and benefits of health IT to the industry and society" and delivering a report, due to Thompson in October, that will make recommendations about specific financial incentives to help get doctors and other health-care providers to implement electronic health records and health-related IT. This is part of the feds' new "decade of health IT" framework, endorsed by President Bush and led by newly named national health IT coordinator Dr. David Brailer.

Friends In High Places, Part 2: Dave Bent, senior VP and CIO at United Stationers in Chicago, and a good friend of InformationWeek's (our Chief of the Year in 1999), let it slip recently that he was approached earlier this year for the top IT job in the U.K. government. In May, Prime Minister Tony Blair revealed that Ian Watmore, managing director of Accenture U.K., had been tapped as head of the country's new E-government initiative. Bent, a U.K. native, says he wasn't (and isn't) interested in a government job. The United Kingdom's loss is still Chicago's gain.

Friends In High Places, Part 3: Tulane University officials said last week that Jim Clark, founder of workstation vendor Silicon Graphics and co-founder of Web-browser pioneer Netscape, and David Filo, co-founder of Internet portal Yahoo, are donating $30 million each to their undergraduate alma mater. Officials said the contributions represent the largest ever in the history of the New Orleans institution. "Wonderful things happen when a great idea is given the capital support it needs," Clark said in a statement. Clark also is the founder of the


health-care network.

Friends In High Places, Part 4: The University of Pennsylvania's high-powered business school, The Wharton School, last week named Deirdre Woods as CIO and associate dean. Woods, a 17-year Wharton veteran, will head the school's 95-person technology team in developing such cutting-edge educational initiatives as "real-time simulations, advanced research applications, and group collaboration," according to a statement.

Complete disclosure: Last week, I wrote that a Florida man was indicted for hacking 8 Mbytes of data from Acxiom; it should have been 8 Gbytes. Also, in a recent column I mentioned that Ed Zander, former chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems, is a principal in Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm; Zander has been CEO of Motorola since January.

OK, so you've never made a mistake? At least I own up to mine. So own up to an industry tip and send it to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about friends in high places, meet me at's Listening Post.

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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