data centers


data centers

Outsourcing – is it a bad word?

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 - 14:57
Guest blogger: Brenda Decker, IBM Global Government Industry

Scoping the Opportunity for Federal IT Consolidation Savings

Monday, February 7th, 2011 - 11:47
Monday, February 7, 2011 - 10:29
There are opportunities for savings from IT consolidation through efforts large and small, and at multiple levels across government.  Servers can be consolidated across an agency, data centers can be consolidated across a department, secretariats can move to one email system, and even services like payroll applications can be shared across agencies.  Innovative leadership, and the desire to shape the future – rather than just react to it – are the characteristics that will determine whether the federal government is able to realize the full savings from IT consolidation.  Unf

Improving IT Management – 25 Principles Unveiled

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 - 12:43
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 11:40
Key principles include:  reducing the number of data centers by at least 800 by 2015; adopting a “cloud first” program that requires agencies to determine three opportunities to move support to the cloud; developing career paths for government IT management; and reforming review and guidance bodies, like the IRB, CIO Council, and TechStat process. Procurement reform and contract vehicle changes are also components of the reform.

David A. Bowen interview

Friday, October 6th, 2006 - 20:00
"[My IT] strategy basically consists of five components, and they all start with 'C' -- the five C's are 'Confirm, Comply, Consolidate, Construct and Communicate'."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 10/07/2006
Intro text: 
In this interview, Bowen discusses: the Mission and scope of FAA's chief information office; the FAA's key information technology priorities and initiatives; FAA's Strategic Sourcing for the Acquisition of Various Equipment and Supplies (SAVES) program;...
In this interview, Bowen discusses: the Mission and scope of FAA's chief information office; the FAA's key information technology priorities and initiatives; FAA's Strategic Sourcing for the Acquisition of Various Equipment and Supplies (SAVES) program; Collaboration and partnership among agencies; New technologies that enable FAA to manage more effectively; and Information technology security.
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast Saturday, October 7, 2006

Washington, D.C.

Mr. Morales: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Al Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created The Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at

The Business of Government Radio Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is David Bowen, Assistant Administrator for Information Services and Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Good morning, Dave.

Mr. Bowen: Al, good morning to you.

Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director in IBM's Federal Consulting Practice.

Good morning, Pete.

Mr. Boyer: Good morning, Al.

Mr. Morales: Dave, can you tell us a little bit about the history and the mission of the Federal Aviation Administration?

Mr. Bowen: Sure, I'd be happy to. Very succinctly, it's basically to provide the safest aerospace system in the world. And let me give you a little bit of context around that. The FAA manages over 24 million square miles of airspace. Actually, we manage the airspace over about 15 percent of the world's surface area. Airspace we manage covers the continental United States as well as Alaska, goes halfway out over the Atlantic Ocean, and almost entirely out over the northern Pacific Ocean.

That chunk of airspace alone is 15 million square miles of airspace. We handle between 56,000 and 57,000 flights in that airspace everyday -- so it's a big chunk of airspace. There is a lot of air travel, a lot of activity in there, and nothing moves in that airspace without us giving approval. We monitor military operations, we give the space shuttle permission to launch; we know what's going on in almost all parts of that airspace all the time.

Mr. Morales: That's an incredible scope and scale. Can you tell us a little bit about specifically the mission and scope of the FAA CIO office, and can you also give us a sense of scale in terms of budget and number of employees?

Mr. Bowen: Sure. Our scope really has two pieces. It involves the strategic IT planning across the FAA's lines of business, and from an operational perspective, we have the responsibility of making sure that our IT infrastructure and systems are secure from cyber attacks, if you will. The FAA has a federated model where the lines of business have the operational responsibility for managing your own systems, and our role is to coordinate their activities across the agency.

So my office isn't all that big. We have about 94 FTEs, and our annual budget is about $37 million. However, we do get involved in IT spending across the agency, and the FAA has a very large IT budget, exceeding $1.5 billion annually. So it's a pretty big chunk of budget that goes into IT-related activities.

Mr. Boyer: Dave, on a related topic, please describe your role as Assistant Administrator and CIO. Specifically, what are your official responsibilities, and how do you support the mission of the organization?

Mr. Bowen: Well, Pete, to respond to this question, I'll paraphrase from my own job description. Basically, to be the advisor to the Administrator on the agency's information technology, and help direct strategic planning for IT across the agency. We just alluded to that. We're also responsible for ensuring that our technology assets are effectively and efficiently aligned with the FAA's strategic mission needs. And as I said, we oversee the implementation and operation of our IT security programs.

As you can probably imagine, the FAA is very IT-intensive. If you think about what it is we do, my office plays either directly or indirectly into almost all of the agency activities. Our management of the FAA is based around what we call a "flight plan" that has four operating components. One is to make sure that we safely manage the airspace; one is to make sure that we provide adequate capacity for aircraft in the airspace system; the third one is to provide international leadership to the aviation communities around the world; and then the fourth one focuses on the FAA itself, and that is to make sure that we're running the agency efficiently and effectively and basically providing organizational excellence. Our administrator likes to talk about running the FAA like a business, and when I interviewed for the position, her charge to me was run IT at the FAA like you'd be running IT in a large business.

Mr. Boyer: And clearly, you've had a very interesting career. Can you tell us about your previous experiences before becoming the CIO?

Mr. Bowen: Sure. I'm not a federal employee by career, obviously, and I'm not in the aviation industry by way of my career. My career basically has consisted of increasing responsibilities in the IT area at progressively larger health care institutions. I've been a CIO at a 7-hospital system, a 14-hospital system, a system with 50 hospitals, and then lastly with a very large health plan in California: Blue Shield of California, based in San Francisco.

An interesting note here, I did take a diversion for a little while in my career and ran a technical manpower company in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years. So I have some overseas experience, international experience. By way of education, I've got a bachelor's degree, I've got an MBA, and in a little bit of a twist, I'm also a certified public accountant.

Mr. Morales: Dave, from your background, we do see that your connection to FAA could be the fact that you're a certified commercial pilot. People always have interesting stories of how they got started in that field, so I'd be interested to hear your story of how you got interested in flying.

Mr. Bowen: How I got started flying? Well, it's something I've always wanted to do. My dad was a pilot during World War II, although he stopped flying after the war and hasn't flown since. So it's something that I've always wanted to do. I got started back in 1980. I was doing some consulting, had a little bit of a bonus in that enabled me to begin taking flying lessons. So I've been flying ever since, and worked my way up through the progression of ratings and licenses, through an instrument rating, commercial rating -- I've never flown professionally, but I've also owned a number of aircraft and have worked up through the ranks in terms of aircraft as well.

So basically I'm with the FAA because I have a passion for flying. I'm very passionate. I love this stuff. I love going around and talking to the people in the agency about what they do. As I told the Administrator when I interviewed with her, I've been her customer for the last 25 years. I want to bring some business expertise to the government, and I just love working with the people in the FAA.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

What are some of the key priorities and initiatives for the FAA? We will ask David Bowen, Assistant Administrator for Information Services and Chief Information Officer within the FAA, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with FAA CIO David Bowen.

Also joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director in IBM's Federal Consulting Practice.

Dave, what are some of the organizational priorities for 2007 at the FAA?

Mr. Bowen: Well, it kind of takes us back to the topic that we talked about about the scope of the office, basically coordinating activities across the agency. We have a number of things on the docket, if you will, for 2007, a lot of things around cost efficiencies, cost effectiveness, establishing standards, taking dollars out of our infrastructure operations so that we can put them to better use in doing more customer-focused things.

We're looking at consolidating some of our data centers. We have a number of those, and think that we can get that number down. We've got a number of points where we touch the web, and that's just a concern for us not only from a cost standpoint but also from a security standpoint, and we want to reduce those. We've got an objective around reducing servers.

And then the other thing I feel very strongly about, and that is we need to work on where our next generation of IT professionals is going to come from. To that end, I've had some input from my staff that they would like some assistance with career planning, career development. We have some programs to bring new blood in to the agency; we want to beef those up. And then obviously, to continue to protect our systems from cyber incidents.

When I got to the agency, I embarked on a program that I called meet, listen and learn for the first 100 days, that they talk about the first 100 days in government, and that was really to go around the agency and talk to people, find out what they were thinking about IT, what their issues were, how IT supported their business needs or didn't, if you will.

It gave me the opportunity to get out and really see at ground level what was going on, what people were doing. I got to a number of regions. I was at our Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, was at our Technical Center at Atlantic City. I went to Alaska, I flew airplanes up onto glaciers and helicopters and did all kinds of neat stuff. And then came back and was charged by the Administrator to develop a strategy for moving IT forward, and so I presented her this strategy around the Memorial Day time frame. She approved it, asked me to make sure that I ran it by all the other line of business executives, and so finally in July, she came out with an endorsement of our strategy.

The strategy basically consists of five components, and they all start with "C." This kind of comes from my pilot training. When you're learning to fly, at least general aviation, they tell you if you get into trouble, there are four Cs that you need to remember: that's "Climb, Communicate, Confess, and Comply." So this strategy is built around five Cs, and the five C's are "Confirm, Comply, Consolidate, Construct and Communicate." So --

Mr. Boyer: I noticed you left "Confess" out.

Mr. Bowen: Yeah. I'm afraid that's for later.

Mr. Boyer: That's for later?

Mr. Bowen: So what we're trying to do is, first thing we're trying to do is to confirm our standards, our infrastructural standards. And then secondly, develop processes to enable us to make sure that going forward, this new stuff at least that we built begins to comply with those standards. So that's point number two.

Third point is consolidation, and we talked about that: infrastructure, data centers, servers et cetera. The fourth thing refers to the construction of a career development plan for the staff, and start focusing on some of the staff issues. And then finally the fifth point -- as always, you need to communicate, you need to communicate what you're doing, your successes, et cetera. So that's the going-forward strategy for the time being. We may change it over the next year or so, but for now, that's kind of what we're working off.

Mr. Morales: I'm excited to see that you've identified the human capital challenges as a priority of yours. I know that many of the organizations and agencies are struggling with that piece, but I'd like to get to that a little bit later. How has the FAA assisted the Department of Transportation in becoming the first Cabinet -level agency to achieve green in the PMA's e-govern area?

Mr. Bowen: Well, I'd like to take credit for that, but unfortunately, it was all done by my predecessor, Dan Mann. Dan, back in 2004-2005, when this initiative first came out, was very aggressive in getting together with our IT security manager, Mike Brown, and the two of them put a huge push on throughout the agency to get our system certified and authorized in 2004, primarily, and then moving into 2005.

Under the e-Gov. initiative, we had to have 90 percent of our systems reviewed in 2004 and certified, and working with our line of business staffs, we were actually able to beat this percentage -- whereas we had -- I think it was 95 percent was the eventual percentage that we were able to get done in 2004, and then took that to 100 percent in 2005. And so at that time, we had over 275 systems, and it's certainly a credit to Dan and his efforts as well as to the folks across the agency to be able to get that done, and that was a big factor in the DoT being able to achieve that green rating in the PMA initiative.

Mr. Boyer: On a similar topic, Dave, to help the effort to control cost, the FAA has embarked on an important agency-wide strategic sourcing initiative. This initiative is called Strategic Sourcing for the Acquisition of Various Equipment and Supplies, or the SAVES program. Could you describe the SAVES initiative and how it relates to your office?

Mr. Bowen: Sure, Pete. I'm glad you defined what SAVES actually stood for. It's a pretty long title. I had to go back and research it myself. The SAVES program, I would describe it as a managed and highly structured reverse option of standardized packages of goods and services.

Currently, we're packaging goods and services into a couple of different buckets; one is around office supplies, one is around office equipment, one is around career services, one is around printing services, and one is around IT network equipment. And so we are gathering specifications for these goods and services together, we are putting out proposals on the street for vendors to bid on those services; we have a sort of a web-based reverse option, which a lot of people are doing these days. And then we're awarding qualified vendors who are aggressive in their pricing and bidding the ability to have contracts with us for these standard sets of services.

We are right now partway through this program. A couple of contracts have been let, a number of RFPs are still out there on the street, but we do expect to save about 14 percent across the board, or $5 million on these services annually. At least we expected to do that when we put the program together. Our first two contracts I will tell you are doing much better than that. So we're very excited about this initiative, and look forward to the savings that we think it will generate.

Mr. Boyer: Now, we've talked with many of our guests about the use of collaboration and partnership among agencies and with the private sector to achieve mission results. What kind of partnerships are you developing now to improve IT operations or outcomes at FAA, and how do you see these partnerships changing over time?

Mr. Bowen: Well, in my commercial experience, I did a lot of this collaboration. I actually chaired an organization that was comprised of all the Blue Cross/Blue Shield CIOs from around the country. So this is very consistent with the style in which I like to operate and find out what other people are doing, and not reinventing the wheel. So we concurrently collaborate with a lot of different organizations both inside and outside the government. We share data with them, we share methodologies, and then in return get a lot of benefit from that.

Let me talk about two areas specifically. One is the IT security area. Here, we can cooperate with the various intelligence and security agencies of the federal government. We collaborate also with air traffic control organizations outside of the government, outside the United States, those being Canada, Mexico, also with what we call Eurocontrol, and we're in the final throes of signing an agreement with NATO for the sharing of data relative to IT security practices and procedures and alerts.

We also collaborate in the same area with various companies in the private sector who supply us technology, and also as well with large universities who are assisting us in developing state-of-the-art technologies around IT security.

Outside of the IT security area, the air traffic control area is an area where we obviously cooperate with NASA, the Defense Department and others, and we also co-operate with the private sector companies as well, particularly in the development of what we call the next generation Air Traffic Control System. We're sharing data with the National Geospatial Agency and others, and I think going forward, we're going to see much more data sharing, much more collaboration with agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department, increasing cooperation with our customers in the commercial airlines, and certainly private sector companies in making use of their resources and sharing information with them.

Mr. Morales: Dave, earlier, you mentioned that one of the priorities was around cost efficiency, and we talked a little bit about some technologies. What are some examples of potential new technologies that may help the FAA manage itself more effectively?

Mr. Bowen: Well, Al, this is really a terrific question, because there is so much new technology coming into aviation, it's unbelievable. A lot of things we're seeing actually are being deployed in the general aviation community before it gets into the commercial aviation community. So there's so much stuff happening, it makes it a very interesting time to be a part of the FAA.

Let me talk about some of these technologies. Probably first and foremost is what we call ADSB, which is Automated Dependent Surveillance Broadcasting. Basically what this is it's based on GPS technology like you're seeing in your cars, where the car knows where it is. But ADSB goes a step further and basically says I'm a GPS receiver, I'm operating in an airplane and I'm going to be broadcasting my position, not only to ground base stations, but to other aircraft who may be operating in the area. And because of this, we can then reduce the separation between aircraft because we now have a much better idea of exactly where in space that aircraft is operating. Before, we had to make allowances for the variability around radar, and so now that can be reduced.

What that means is that we can pack more airplanes into a given airspace, and that is consistent with our capacity, our goal from our flight plan. But not only that, it means that we can actually do that more safely, because the aircraft now know where each other -- where they all are, and where all the other aircraft are, and then the aircraft can actually assist the ground-based controller in seeing and avoiding other aircraft operating in its airspace.

I've flown some aircraft with this technology up in Alaska, and it's really interesting to see what you can do with that. That's one technology that's going to be a real cornerstone for some of the new air traffic control capabilities that we're working to develop.

Some other technologies include what we call ASDE-X. It's basically a surface radar just like operates on the airport, looks across the airport surface to see where aircraft are operating.

There is a new technology coming out called Synthetic Vision. We're actually seeing this being deployed in some general aviation aircraft. And if you really stop and think about it it's really neat, because the GPS receiver knows where it is and it knows where, let's say, the airport is, or the runway that you're trying to land on as a pilot. Unfortunately, you can't see the runway because there's clouds in the way or it's night or raining, or whatever. But because the GPS knows where the runway is relative to your position, the GPS can construct a visual image of what that runway would look like if in fact you could see it.

So you can basically shift your attention to flying -- a CRT display screen that will bring this runway into your field of vision digitally, even though you can't see it outside and enable you to land on it, basically sort of like Microsoft Flight Simulator. So that's pretty neat, and you're starting to see that.

We also flew in Alaska some new equipment that looks at not only where the airplane is currently, but again through GPS where the airplane is projected to be. It's called Trajectory Projection. And there is an indicator that goes ahead of the airplane and says in a minute or a minute-and-a-half or two minutes from now, if you currently are on your course and speed and altitude, this is where you're going to be in space. And that's very helpful in Alaska for terrain avoidance and things like that, so that if somebody makes a turn, again, the GPS knows how high it is and it knows how high the terrain is, and it can alert the pilot if you're turning into terrain that's actually higher than you are.

This kind of technology has been in use in the military for a while now, but it's just now coming into use in the general aviation area. So those are some new technologies that we're really excited about.

Mr. Morales: It is fascinating, exciting.

What is the FAA's IT investment in capital planning process? We will ask David Bowen, Assistant Administrator for Information Services and FAA's Chief Information Officer, to explain this to us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with FAA Chief Information Officer David Bowen.

Also joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director in IBM's Federal Consulting Practice.

Dave, given both your private and public sector experiences, we'd like to get a sense of your management strategy. Could you provide us an overview of your management strategy?

Mr. Bowen: I'd be happy to, Al. When I joined the agency, I brought with me a set of principles which I call our operating principles. These came from my experience at Blue Shield, and really helped us institute a very disciplined culture there. So we're starting to roll those out, certainly in my group in the FAA and the groups that I am interacting with. It really talks about principles and behaviors -- and I won't go into all of the details, but some of the principles that we are trying to enforce here include enforcing a culture of data-driven decisionmaking, not making decisions based on, you know, hearsay or whatever. Be prepared to know the details of your line of business. Leadership should be in the trenches. That's a leadership principle.

And then one that I think is important talks about alignment. You know, you give everybody the opportunity to participate in a decision, but once the decision is made, we expect people to get in line behind the decision and act accordingly. Don't go out of the meeting room and basically try to undermine the decision that you just made. So that principle says once we get to alignment, act aligned.

Well, there are a couple of behaviors, too, that I want to highlight. There were about six or seven of them that I brought to the agency, but a couple that I'll highlight include one is to be clear and explicit. What are we asking to be done, who are we asking to do it? How are we asking for it to be done, and when are we expecting it to be completed? Oftentimes in a discussion, these parameters aren't agreed to mutually by the parties, and result in confusion.

A big one for the FAA involves taking an enterprise-wide view. This is where we are challenging people to start thinking about doing what's in the best interest of the agency, not necessarily what's in the best interest of either of them personally or their line of business. And that's a very difficult thing to do given the line of business focus that we have in our culture.

Two other ones: one involves responding with appropriate urgency, and then the final one is to take personal responsibility for execution. And that is to hold people accountable and make sure that people understand that they have a responsibility to make things happen. And, you know, if it doesn't happen, then they need to be accountable. They should not be making excuses, "I couldn't do x, y, or z." They need to stand up and be accountable and take on this responsibility.

So those are some of the things that I brought to the FAA from the commercial world. And so far, they are working out well.

Mr. Morales: Earlier this year, the IBM Center for the Business of Government published a report comparing the U.S. air traffic system to the systems in the U.K. and Canada, which have adopted market-based principles and rigorous capital investment processes. Unlike the U.K. and the Canada systems, the U.S. ATC capital investment planning process has been marked by a history of relatively poor performance and high costs. Could you tell us about this planning process at FAA, and highlight some of the more recent improvements?

Mr. Bowen: Sure, I'd be happy to. I think part of this gets back to the context that I tried to set in the beginning of this discussion around the size and scope of the services that we provide. A comparison with the air traffic control system in Canada and in the U.K. is probably appropriate from a structural standpoint, but maybe not from a volume standpoint. Our aerospace is far larger; we handle far, far more aircraft. And so we think that our business is a lot more complex.

Nonetheless, we have had to improve our acquisition and management review processes over the last couple of years. We have been called to task by the IG, and as well the OMB, and have had our projects on the various watch lists of those sort of oversight kinds of agencies. We've taken a number of steps to improve our processes. Obviously we, like most of the -- or all of the agencies in the federal government -- are now doing business cases around our expenditures. We are doing projections of where our projects are.

I happen to sit on the FAA investment review committee that reviews all investments across the agency, so I bring not only an IT background, but also a financial management background to this process. And I am starting to ask a lot of tough questions, as are some of my counterparts on those investment review committees.

So we are actively improving our project management processes. We just had our final project taken off the OMB management watch list, so we are right now not in anybody's sights as far as the oversight boards. Everybody seems to be relatively happy with the way things are going. We discuss these projects periodically, review them, and overall, I think our processes have improved significantly.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. I know being under that kind of scrutiny puts a fair amount of undue pressure on your organization.

Mr. Boyer: Dave, there are many exciting approaches to technologies that are vogue in the marketplace today promising significant advantage and cost savings and improved systems integration. For example, there is the rise of Service Oriented Architecture, or SOA, which is the architectural style whose goal is to achieve loose coupling among interacting software agents. What is FAA's investment strategy to enhance its future technology portfolio?

Mr. Bowen: Well, Pete, I'd like to say we are further along in that area than we are. You know, it's funny, you get these sort of waves of timely topics or whatever, and some of it seems to be the most recent sort of wave du jour, if you will, in the IT community. But nonetheless, there are a lot of advantages to moving to a service-oriented architecture.

What I have got to say though is that because we are still operating in a federal model and we haven't established hard standards around software development and the software development life cycle, we have a lot of people doing a lot of different things. So we are not there yet. We certainly want to move to a position where we do have standards in this area, but we are just not there.

Mr. Morales: Well, we've talked a little bit about security earlier, but as you know, information technology security has been in the news a lot lately, with stolen laptops causing major problems in various government agencies, and also causing concern among our citizens over issues like identification theft. FAA has made significant progress in addressing computer security weakness. Could you elaborate on the progress made by FAA remedying such weaknesses?

Mr. Bowen: Al, I'd really be happy to, because we are very proud of the progress that we've have made in this area. It kind of takes us back to the discussion around -- the getting to green in the PMA agenda. And we made huge progress in the area of IT security. We have a state-of-the-art Cyber Security Incident Response Center which monitors the FAA computer networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I talked about the various agencies that we are collaborating with in doing this and sharing data with. We think our center is one of the best in the civilian government, was just certified at a new higher level of CMM, which is a Capability Maturity Model standard that is in use for operations of this type. We have a performance objective in the flight plan of not having any cyber events disrupt our systems.

And despite the fact that we deny over one million access requests to our network each and every day, we have yet to have a significant cyber event. We are looking to set up this Cyber Security Center as a federal government center of excellence for computer system security. We are working with the Department of Transportation in helping them out and moving this forward. So a lot of progress there, things going well, and we are real happy about that.

Regarding the identity issue, this is an area of particular sensitivity to me, and may get back to the conversation we had around the health care experience, because in the health care space, this personal identity issue and identity theft issue has been on the forefront of our activities for the last five or six years going back to the HIPAA legislation that mandated some protections for particularly health-related information. So in the health care sector, we are very sensitive to that.

I talked to our Deputy Administrator probably a couple of months ago about the possibility of encrypting data on all the laptops, and got his endorsement to do that, and so we've embarked on a policy whereby we are not going to fool around with this stuff. We are going to basically make it a policy that every laptop in the Federal Aviation Administration is going to be encrypted, so that in the event it gets lost, stolen or whatever, we know that we are protected from that theft and the resultant loss of data, and any kind of implications that it may have, and not have to worry about it.

This goes beyond recently published OMB guidelines for the protection of what they call Personally Identifiable Information, or PII. But again, I feel strongly about this -- probably my health care background -- this is the right thing to do. We need to do it, and we are doing it.

Mr. Morales: On a similar theme with personal identification, we understand that the FAA is currently planning for the implementation of smartcard technology, programming personal access to facilities and information systems to meet the requirements of HSPD-12. What's FAA's strategy around this initiative?

Mr. Bowen: Well, we do have an HSPD-12 program in place. HSPD-12 has two phases: a physical access phase which allows an individual access to physical facilities, as well as a logical access, which allows an individual access into their computer systems applications and things that they are allowed to use. We are pretty far along in the physical access piece; we have systems in place that have some degree of that kind of capability. We need to put them together, and we need to bring them up to standards that are mandated by HSPD-12 in terms of the information contained on the card and things like that.

We have a little bit more time to work through the logical access implications of HSPD-12. We do have a team working on that. It is being driven largely out of our area, my office, and we are developing plans, we are developing an architecture and infrastructure. I think this is an area where we really want to spend time looking at what industry has done and also what other agencies are done, because unlike most of the initiatives, it seems to me in the federal government this is an initiative that is relatively consistent across all of the agencies.

You know, the Agriculture people need the same kind of physical access and logical access that we do. And so I'd certainly like to see more inter-departmental cooperation in this area so that we can move forward collectively and not all have to reinvent the wheel. Right now, we are taking a build approach to HSPD-12, particularly in the logical access piece. But we continue to look at what industry solutions are out there being offered by various vendors. And some of the agencies I think are taking a leadership position and offering services to other agencies, and we certainly want to explore those. Bottom line here is to make the best business decision that's in the best interest of the FAA.

Mr. Morales: Excellent.

What does the future hold for the FAA's IT office? We will ask CIO David Bowen when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with FAA's Chief Information Officer, David Bowen.

Also joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director in IBM's Federal Consulting Practice.

Dave, what trends, whether demographic, technical, economic, and/or industry, will have the largest impact on the FAA over the next 10 years, and how will your office adapt to these changes?

Mr. Bowen: Well, this is a really exciting topic, and I think we touched on it when we talked a little bit about new technologies. But there are a number of industry events that are moving to sort of show us the wave of the future, a couple of trends that we are watching very carefully and actually participating in. Obviously, we see an increase in air travel over the next several years.

The air travel business fell off after 9/11, but we are to the point where it is now higher than it was at 9/11, and certainly as high as it was shortly before 9/11, so we see air travel continuing to increase. And that's a factor that we are going to have to deal with. We are actually projecting an increase in air travel overall by a factor of three by the year 2025. So that there is some sort of long-term study numbers that we've had done, and those are the kind of numbers we are seeing there.

There are a number of other things happening in the aerospace industry. You may have read about the coming wave of what we call VLJs, very light jets. These are small, nimble, four- or five-six-passenger jets that we are actively involved in certifying. They are using new technology and new types of manufacturing methods to bring these aircraft to market at much lower prices than we've seen private jets in the past, and so we think we are going to see an increase in that kind of traffic.

We also see commercial space travel developing. I just saw a note the other day, I think it was -- I forget, Paris Hilton or one of the Hiltons -- booked a flight on some space travel junket at some point in the future. We can kind of chuckle about that, but we have a branch in the agency that's dedicated to space travel, and they are actually very, very busy.

We certify space ports and oversee space launches and things like that, and we see this is an area of enormous growth for us. We also see the growth of what we call UASs, which are Unmanned Aerial Systems. We made some press, I think, recently where the sheriff of Los Angeles County wanted to fly some unmanned surveillance aircraft. And certainly we are working with people like the Naturalization Service, who are flying unmanned aerial platforms, if you will, to look at borders and everything else.

The military obviously has been using some of these systems for some time, but we are seeing increasing civilian uses for these types of platforms. So all this has to be dealt with through increased automation as a way of dealing with this, as our current system which is run by humans, largely human-dependent, is becoming more and more -- I shouldn't say incapable -- but it's certainly becoming more and more difficult for us to manage all these different types of air traffic, all operating in the same airspace.

So the solution is really going to be more automation. I mean, we don't see any way around it. We are in the process of developing what we call the next generation air traffic control system, which is going to enable us to deal with these projected volumes of traffic as well as these new types of aerial platforms.

Mr. Boyer: Now, Dave, according to a June 2005 Federal Computer Week survey, the FAA was voted one of the best places to work in the Federal IT. How do you intend to retain this impressive accomplishment?

Mr. Bowen: Well, I wish I had seen that before I joined the agency. And I talked about why I joined, but I think one of the reasons I joined the agency is one of the reasons why we got that high rating. I think we attract people who are passionate about aviation. That's why I joined the agency. My goal is to be sure that our folks in IT understand the mission of the agency and how they clearly contribute to it.

So from a standpoint of somebody coming into the agency, I think our mission around air traffic control and around aviation safety is very, very visible and very real to people. I mean, you walk through an airport and see little kids coming out of the jetway meeting mom or meeting grandma, where they travel to -- you know, travel to go and be with the family -- I mean that's really what we are all about. And I -- you know, I take that very seriously, and I know that a lot of my colleagues in the agency do, too.

We are trying to do some management things I think that will attract IT people to the agency. I think I talked about my management style. Basically, I see my role as sort of a coordination/collaboration sort of facilitator. I like to set goals, get people the resources that they need and get out of their way. I am a very hands-off manager, and my people seem to like that.

We talked about communication. One of the things that we've done and was done based on a suggestion I got out of one of my all hands' meetings is to develop a website, or a capability on our website, where people can anonymously ask the CIO a question. And we've had a lot of response to that, and a lot of questions about all different kinds of things. Not just IT topics, but all kinds of things all across the agency.

So I think that is one thing -- one of many things that we can do to be sensitive to the needs of our people, help communicate the mission of the agency, and clearly show them where their activities tie directly to our mission and to our flight plan. We reward our employees for superior performance, and we also try to have fun in the process.

Mr. Boyer: That's excellent. Given your private and public sector experience, what have you learned about the ideal skills and traits that a CIO must have to be successful across these industries?

Mr. Bowen: Ideal skills and traits? I think the most accurate description that I've heard of the CIO job is to build relationships and execute with excellence. And that came out of a quote by one of the CIOs in CIO Magazine, and I think that's very true, certainly at high levels in the government agencies where I operate. My technical skills have long since departed me, but it's my business skills and my relationship skills that I think are what the FAA is depending upon me to use to move IT at the agency forward.

I think you have to know and understand the business you are in. And I am going to talk probably in another month or so, maybe two months, I think, to a group of health care people about how health care skills may transition to other industries. And we kind of touched upon that in this discussion, but I think the fact that I was a pilot and have operated in the airspace system and owned aircraft and gone through all the pilot-type stuff really helped me to understand the business, plus the fact that I bring a passion to the business as well. So I think in terms of private versus public sectors, those are some universal, I think, similarities.

Mr. Morales: Dave, you've obviously had a very successful private sector career, and now you've made the transition over to government. What advice could you give to a person who is interested in making a similar transition over to public service?

Mr. Bowen: Well, what advice could I give? Kind of a tough question. I would say that you need to find something that you need to be -- that you can be passionate about and go for it. In my limited experience, and I have been in the federal government now six months, the one thing that really surprises me is that there is an enormous range of opportunities to do things in the federal government. Enormous possibilities for interesting assignments, for details, for moving around in the federal, sort of, you know agency world and moving up.

I think we probably have more flexibility to do some of these things than I would say we have in the private sector. And the government certainly encourages that as a way for federal employees to develop their career. So certainly that potential is out there for people to do things, and if you have a positive attitude and you've got initiative and you are passionate about the agency mission and what you want to do, I think the potential is unlimited, so I tell people to go for it.

Mr. Morales: Excellent, excellent. That's great advice.

We've unfortunately reached the end of our time, and that'll have to be my last question. I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule. But more importantly, Pete and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to the public and our country as CIO of the FAA.

Mr. Boyer: Thanks Al, I am delighted to be here. If people want to learn more about the FAA, they can go to our website,, lot of stuff there. And I hope to maybe come back and talk to you again soon.

Mr. Morales: Excellent, we'd enjoy that.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring conversation with the Assistant Administrator for Information Services, and Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, David Bowen.

Be sure to visit us on the web at There, you can learn more about our programs, and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Once again, that's

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales.

Thank you for listening.