Dr. George O. Strawn
As the National Science Foundation’s Chief Information Officer
(CIO), Dr. George O. Strawn guides the agency in the development
and design of innovative information technology—working to
enable NSF staff and the international community of scientists,
engineers and educators to improve business practices and pursue
new methods of scientific communication, collaboration and decision-making.
More specifically, the CIO’s primary objectives are to:
- Ensure that information technology is acquired and information
resources are managed effectively;
- Develop, maintain and facilitate a sound and integrated information
technology architecture; and
- Promote the effective and efficient design and operation of
all major information resources management processes for the agency,
including improvements to work processes.
Since joining the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1991, Dr.
Strawn has served NSF in numerous roles. For the past four years
(1999-2002), prior to his appointment as CIO, Dr. Strawn worked
in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
(CISE), serving three years as the Executive Officer and one year
as the Acting Assistant Director. From 1995 through 1998 he was
Director of the CISE Division of Advanced Networking Infrastructure
and Research where, among other things, he led NSF's efforts in
the Presidential Next Generation Internet Initiative, an initiative
that created the first national high performance network testbed.
Notably, Dr. Strawn was the NSFNET Program Director from 1991 to
1993, overseeing the progression of the NSFNET backbone network
from DS-1 capacity (1.5 megabits per second) to become the first
national DS-3 Internet network (45 megabits per second). From 1993
to 1995, he continued in a part-time capacity with NSF and was involved
with defining and deploying the "new" (privatized) Internet
Prior to working at NSF, Dr. Strawn was a computer science faculty
member at Iowa State University (ISU) for a number of years, where
he also held several administrative positions. From 1986 to 1995
he served as Director of the ISU Computation Center. Under his leadership,
ISU became a charter member of the regional NSFNET network, MIDnet,
and ISU created a thousand-workstation academic system based on
an extension of the MIT Athena system. From 1983 to 1986 he served
as Chair of the ISU Computer Science Department. Under his leadership,
the computer science program was among the first in the nation to
be accredited by the then-new Computer Science Accreditation Board.
Dr. Strawn currently serves as co-chair of both the interagency
Large Scale Networking Working Group and the international Coordinating
Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks. He has also served
as co-chair of the interagency Federal Networking Council from 1995
Dr. Strawn also has held several positions in the computer industry
and has worked as an information technology consultant in both private
industry and government. He holds a PhD in Mathematics from Iowa
State University and an undergraduate degree from Cornell College.
With the active support of NSF Director
Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF became the first Federal Government organization
to electronically conduct its business interactions with customers.
This unprecedented milestone was achieved through the development
of FastLane---an NSF-built, interactive real-time system used to
conduct NSF business over the Internet.
system includes scores of capabilities that support the full life
cycle of Federal research grant administration. These capabilities
include proposal submission, proposal review, process tracking,
award notification, final reports submission, cash payments, and
generalized searching capabilities.
In 2001, NSF distributed over $2.5 billion annually via FastLane’s
web interface. FastLane allows funds to be electronically deposited
directly into an awardee’s bank account. NSF currently receives
over 12,000 requests a year, with approximately 40 to 60 grantees
per day requesting and receiving cash through FastLane. To date,
over 99.8 percent of all Federal Cash Transaction Reports are submitted
via FastLane every quarter. This accounts for approximately 30,000
active NSF awards with a total net award value of almost $12.8 billion.
NSF plays a key leadership role in inter-agency electronic grant
initiatives. In support of the mission of the Federal Commons—the
standardization of electronic grant processes and interfaces—NSF
continues to provide proactive support and guidance. Given the success
of FastLane, NSF has emerged as a leader in this area. Most recently,
NSF provided the Federal Commons with a web-based, eXtensible Markup
Language (XML) application that allows the on-line submission of
proposals to the Federal Commons.
Under the direction of the CIO and the ADP Security Officer, an
agency-wide certification and accreditation policy was established.
All NSF IT systems that are considered mission critical are in the
process of being certified and accredited or have been certified
and accredited. In accordance with OMB Circular A-130, Appendix
III, NSF has taken a proactive approach toward IT security. All
systems that directly affect the operation of the agency, such as
systems that process financial, payroll, or statistical data are
continually reviewed to ensure that appropriate security measures
are in place.
The role of physical security is also critical. Vulnerabilities
that occur in physical security can directly impact IT security—there
is a direct tie between the two. With more than 50,000 visitors
per year at NSF, the badging system is a mission critical operation,
one that is continually reassessed.
Integrated Payroll System
NSF’s Integrated Payroll System (IPAY) was a major development
effort that required the reengineering of the old system, which
resided on a 20–year–old minicomputer, to a modern state-of-the-art
integrated application that operates within NSF’s client/server
environment. This improvement allows payroll activities to be driven
by information about employees’ personnel actions and leave
activities delivered directly from the source database. Some of
the benefits of IPAY include increased customer satisfaction with
the new self-service function for employees and the generation of
electronic leave and earning statements that are more detailed and
Financial Accounting System
The implementation of the new NSF Financial Accounting System
(FAS) involved the reengineering of an outdated mainframe-based
system to a windows-based, integrated client/server system. To ensure
a smooth transition, the new FAS system was implemented in phases.
With the system now fully implemented, performance has remained
stable. Customers throughout the agency are pleased with the results,
from both a functional and ease-of-use perspective.
is NSF's new web-based vacancy announcement and application system.
It provides an easy way for applicants to search and apply for jobs
online. Job seekers can create, save, update and submit applications
for vacancies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once a resume is in
the eRecruit system, applicants can apply for a vacancy in minutes
by responding to a series of questions specifically created for
that position. Job seekers are immediately notified that their applications
have been received. Managers can review application packages on
line. Once a selection is made, applicants are electronically notified
of the outcome of their job search.
Supporting the Mission
In support of NSF’s mission, these new capabilities along
with others provide the agency with a robust, modern information
technology infrastructure. Many of our initiatives also lay the
groundwork for the use of new and promising technologies in the
coming years. We will continue working with staff and our customers
to expand our horizons in information technology.
Chief Information Officers’ Council www.cio.gov
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