Gov’t’s first CIO exited
After launching an ambitious set of policy initiatives including the government’s “cloud-first” policy pushing Web-based computing, Vivek Kundra, the federal government’s first chief information officer, stepped down this summer.
Steven VanRoekel, executive director of citizen and organizational engagement at the U.S. Agency for International Development and a longtime Microsoft employee, was appointed his successor.
Kundra took office in early 2009 and quickly made an impact, forcing agencies to restructure or cancel troublesome information technology projects and pushing them to consolidate data centers. Kundra left his post for a joint fellowship at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Venerable law firm shut its doors
It was the bankruptcy heard ’round the legal world: Howrey, the once-venerable Washington law firm, dissolved in March. At its peak, the 55-year-old firm had more than 700 attorneys worldwide and some of the country’s best antitrust litigators. Throughout 2011, the Howrey estate continued churning out work for lawyers — bankruptcy counsel Wiley Rein has earned more than $1 million in fees — and its dissolution presented a golden opportunity for other law firms to snap up attorneys. Many former Howrey lawyers are now at Winston & Strawn; others landed at Baker Hostetler, Morgan Lewis, Wiley Rein and other major firms.
In September, after months of litigation with its health provider Cigna over thousands of former employees’ unpaid medical claims, Howrey said it would pay the claims out of its cash collateral. Some loose ends won’t be tied up anytime soon. Howrey continues to battle its former Washington landlord over alleged unpaid rent, and faces a temporarily halted lawsuit filed by former employees suing to recover wages and bonuses they say are owed to them because the company didn’t give them enough notice before mass layoffs.
— Catherine Ho
The years-long process to realign Defense Department bases came to a close in September. The effects of the move were felt locally at Fort Meade, which gained thousands with the arrival of the Defense Information Systems Agency as well as the Defense Media Activity, a Pentagon agency that provides news and entertainment to U.S. forces, and defense adjudication entities. Additionally, the base continued to see growth from the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
In Alexandria, the Mark Center, built to house more than 6,000 employees from 24 Pentagon agencies using leased space in the region, provoked outrage among residents and congressional representatives concerned about a significant uptick in traffic in an already choked area.