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Linda Cureton to Retire from NASA CIO Role, Leaves Legacy of ‘Innovation and Strategic Thinking’

CuretonfLinda Cureton, NASA CIO, will retire on April 1 and leave a legacy of innovation and strategic thinking, writes Frank Konkel and Camille Tuutti for FCW.

Cureton has been with the U.S. government for 34 years and is responsible for upgrading the NASA CIO’s office from tech support and security policy developer into NASA’s arbiter for IT innovation.

During her tenure, she led the installation of Nebula infrastructure-as-a-service in 2010 and helped reduce costs on energy consumption and labor as well as maximized resources.

Nebula served as storage of various NASA data and web-based applications and improved the dissemination of NASA datasets to the public and industry partners.

Cureton said they struggled to find funding for Nebula at the beginning but the stress of it all was worth the benefits they eventually gained.

She is also responsible for creating the chief technology officer for IT position at NASA.

The said the office is responsible for supplying NASA personnel with the most sophisticated IT technology in the world and guarantees the continued initiative for innovation in the agency.

NASA also had to face sharp budget cuts during her tenure but she helped resolve the issue through smarter contracting.

Among the key contracts she approved was the modernization contract with Hewlett-Packard for end-user infrastructure and insourcing its call center to act as an enterprise service desk for general inquiries.

All of these efforts are part of a comprehensive strategy for efficient IT spending that was approved using NASA’s IT infrastructure integration program.

Cureton explained the program was aimed to assimilate all NASA IT across the U.S. through consolidated services.

So far, I3P has increased IT efficiency, strengthened IT security and updated NASA’s procurement process, according to Cureton.

When her retirement becomes official, Cureton doesn’t want to stay away from work and plans to write a book after a short vacation.

The book is poised as a follow up to “The Leadership Muse” and will serve as a how-to guide for leaders.

She confessed that retirement makes her feel like she’s only going to a different place instead totally abandoning the government.

Cureton started her career in NASA as CIO of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and she was promoted as agencywide CIO. Cureton is from Washington D.C. and was enrolled in the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Richard Spires, CIO at the Department of Homeland Security, thanked Cureton for her contribution not only as NASA CIO but also in her work for the federal CIO Council.

NASA has not yet announced Cureton’s successor. But majority of her responsibilities will be turned over to Gary Cox, NASA’s deputy CIO for IT reform for the meantime.

Cureton has her opinion on who will be the next CIO but she refused to share them saying that NASA’s decision on the matter should be respected.

Darren Ash, CIO at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and president of the American Council for Technology said that Cureton’s replacement should be able to complement the programmatic and space flight center leaders and be a trusted adviser of the NASA administrator.

Robert Bruce, senior executive officer at GTI Federal, said that NASA should choose a leader who is capable to sustaining the momentum Cureton started and someone determined enough to resist regression.

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