Claire Votaw

Director, Project Services Office, the State Department

Best known for: There are some 40 federal agencies with offices in foreign countries that traditionally have maintained their own Internet, e-mail and computer systems, resulting in redundancy and higher costs. Votaw heads a State Department effort to consolidate these operations by providing shared information techology services to the agencies that operate alongside the diplomatic corps.

The Foreign Affairs Network (FAN) offers a cost-effective alternative for federal agencies to access and share the State Department’s managed IT infrastructure. The network eliminates the need for separate systems overseas, creates economies of scale and enables collaboration, information sharing and enhanced security. The FAN provide support to the Foreign Agricultural Service and is transitioning services for the U.S. Agency for International Development in some overseas locations.

Votaw also is working with the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Energy, the Foreign Commercial Service and others as they transition to the overseas network.

In addition to the FAN, Votaw manages more than 20 other IT projects.

Government work: Votaw initially worked as a Foreign Service officer and for many years has been involved in IT project management at the State Department.

Motivation for service: Votaw’s grandfather was a lawyer with the Department of Labor. Her father worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was killed in 1983 when a suicide bomber drove a truck of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Votaw sees both men as role models and views her IT work at State as a way to assist diplomats as they carry out U.S. foreign policy.

Biggest challenge: Convincing resistant federal managers to accept change and alter the way they do business through new IT solutions.

Quote: “When you love what you do and see the impact your work is making to an organization whose mission you are passionate about, you find something that inspires you every day to keep focused and motivated.”

— From the Partnership
for Public Service

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