by Meridith Levinson

An Officer and a CIO for the Air Force

Jul 01, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

John Gilligan has stepped down as the Air Force CIO to make way for three-star general, Lt. Gen. William Hobbins, who was appointed the acting CIO in May as part of a reorganization of the Air Force’s IT department. Gilligan, a civilian, worked himself out of a job after he was put in charge last December of integrating the CIO office with other offices responsible for day-to-day communications, electronic warfare and surveillance.

Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer with FedSources, a supplier of government IT market data, says that although Gilligan is respected by the Air Force’s top brass for his role in integrating Air Force systems and providing Internet-based tools for military strategists and war fighters, he doesn’t have the same rapport with the Air Force leadership as someone with war experience.

“The three-star [general] will know how critical the information that’s developed by the information technology environment is to the day-to-day prosecution of war or peacekeeping,” says Bjorklund. The move to make the CIO a three-star general indicates that Air Force leadership recognizes the importance of IT to the Air Force’s mission.

Other federal government IT executives—among them Steve Cooper, the Department of Homeland Security’s first CIO; Gloria Parker, the CIO and CTO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Stephen Fletcher, the deputy CIO and CTO of the Department of Education—have departed for more conventional reasons: The election and subsequent arrival of new Cabinet secretaries offers these political appointees a reason to return to private life.

Cooper is now at the American Red Cross. Parker left HUD in April to become a senior vice president of business development and strategy with IT services provider Apptis. Fletcher, meanwhile, has become the State of Utah’s CIO, where, he says, he is offered an opportunity to live out every CIO’s dream of rebuilding an IT department from the ground up.