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IT Confidential: Washington: Where The IT Action Is

Some spend millions to get federal jobs. These two are leaving them.

Government is where the action has been lately, both for politicians looking for jobs and vendors looking for someone--anyone--with a rising IT budget. For people looking to understand how the IT world works inside the Beltway, some seriously experienced folks are coming on the market.

Jim Flyzik joined the federal government during one of its darker modern moments, signing up as a computer programmer for the Secret Service during the Watergate scandal. He rose through the ranks of the Treasury Department to become its CIO seven years ago. Then, seven months ago, he got a call from Homeland Security director Tom Ridge, who wanted Flyzik to be his special adviser on IT. That put his retirement thoughts on hold. "Clearly," he says, "I wanted to be part of that." In that role, he's mentored Homeland Security CIO Steve Cooper, who brought in a wealth of technology knowledge from his role as a Corning CIO but little background on how agencies were using IT. Flyzik has been involved in developing a system, due to be implemented by year's end, to integrate 55 terrorist watch lists so that information is shared more broadly. Beyond fighting terrorism, Since 1997, Flyzik's been vice chairman of the federal CIO Council, a group setting broad IT policy that's chaired by Mark Forman, the Bush administration's point man for E-government. After 28 years, Flyzik is retiring from government on Dec. 17; he says he doesn't know what kind of private-sector work he might pursue.

The person who temporarily filled Flyzik's CIO spot at Treasury, Mayi Canales, has recently left government as well. Canales spent more than three years in Treasury, mostly as deputy CIO before being named acting CIO this year. Canales' work there wasn't without controversy, as she led an effort to significantly cut jobs and simplify systems at the department. She knows her way around other government agencies as well, having worked eight years with the Department of Veterans Affairs, including serving as CIO of the VA Health Care Network in the Midwest. As a government contractor earlier in her career, she worked on missile systems and a quality-assurance program for NASA after the Challenger explosion. She also spent a number of years in various private-sector jobs. Unlike Flyzik, Canales has concrete plans for her private-sector future. She's founded a consulting company called M2 to work with federal and state agencies developing E-government strategies and private-sector contractors looking to work on federal projects. The other M in the firm is Migo Miconi, who brings connections galore from his 31 years on the Hill, most recently working for C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Canales had been planning a return to private-sector work, and the chance to team up with Miconi provided the chance--"a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Have you ever jumped at a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity"? If so, tell me how it came out at cjmurphy@cmp.com. If you've got a hot industry tip, send it to John Soat, who reclaims this column next week, at jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.

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