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November 8, 2007

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When the GSA went hunting for their new CIO, they didn’t go to central casting for your typical nerd.  Instead, they picked dynamic Texan (with a slight drawl, even) Casey Coleman, who began her career as a Lockheed Martin software engineer and was last seen playing against type as CIO of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Casey was still unpacking from her September 2 promotion when we visited her last week.

Casey mugs for Bisnow’s camera, just as thousands of federal employees do for the ID cards that GSA produces.  She’s still getting settled into an office (witness those boxes), a stone’s throw from the Old Executive Building, but Casey had no trouble identifying its best perk:  she gets her own private bathroom.

The GSA’s “head geek” is focusing her energy on one of the GSA’s more ambitious initiatives: getting half of its 12,000 nationwide employees to telework (work one or more days a week from home, that is) by 2010.  Initial legislation promoting a federal telework initiative was sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) back in 2000, and it continues to be pushed by Congressional delegations from DC and Virginia, in part to ease congested traffic.  Casey says that other benefits include the environmental effect of fewer cars on the road and a reduced emergency threat to a centralized workforce.  (Hey, if it’ll get us around 495 faster, that’s enough for us.)

The painting comes from Chile.  A vacation there three years ago made Casey realize there was more to life than working long hours at the office.  She decided to get herself a better social life, and a few months later met her husband Steve Bolster at a mixer at the old Sam & Harry’s on Route 7.   

The GSA recently purchased 8,000 laptops from Intelligent Designs to be included—along with a Blackberry-type device and other items to be determined—in a standard “support package” for teleworking employees.  (Casey says the GSA may soon be putting out an RFP for security technologies to help workers connect safely.)  Currently, about ten percent of the GSA’s force works from home or at dispersed “telework centers,” of which there are 12 in the DC area.  The Patent & Trademark Office has the largest percentage of teleworkers at the moment, but the GSA and the Office of Personnel Management have been designated by Congress as the lead agencies, and Casey says that no agency has set a target as bold as 50 percent participation.

Casey thought we were slightly crazy when we made a big deal out of the grand entrance to her office.  (Actually, we are slightly crazy, but that’s neither here nor there.)  She’s getting into the teleworking act herself; when she doesn’t come into the office, she saves a two-hour commute from Vienna—and actually gets to eat breakfast.

Beyond the work-from-home push, Casey wants to streamline the various online outlets—like and—where GSA offers its services to government agencies and also acts as a clearinghouse for other agencies and vendors.  Casey would like the sites to have a similar look and feel, with a reduced number of login points.  “Some people have twenty or more passwords,” Casey says.    

She initially came to D.C. as a Congressional Fellow working for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).  After dabbling with some software startups in her native Texas, Casey took a position with the GSA’s Office of Citizen Services after the dot-com bust.  You can’t take the Texas out of the woman, though—Casey still likes to get an occasional taste of home at Vienna’s Tequila Grande, and has been to the Texas State Society’s last two Black Tie and Boots inaugural balls.
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