Loose Lips

OCTO’s Bryan Sivak’s Farewell Letter

D.C.'s head computer man, Bryan Sivak, was one of several District government agency heads shown the door yesterday by incoming Almost Mayor Vince Gray.

Judging by the facts that the chief technology officer begins his goodbye letter to staff by saying he has a "heavy heart" and that he wrote Gray a four-page resignation letter about OCTO's accomplishments under his watch, Sivak probably wanted to hold on to the gig. Oh, and the part where he says, "simply put, the past 14 months have been some of the greatest of my life," is another clue.

Here's his letter:

From: Bryan Sivak (OCTO) [mailto:bryan.sivak@dc.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 10:47 AM
To: All Personnel – OCTO; OCTO All Personnel (OCTO)
Subject: Transition update

Dear OCTO Team,

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words:  I have been  informed by the new administration that my services will no longer be necessary effective January 1st.

Simply put, the past 14 months have been some of the greatest of my life.  I came into the public sector expecting mind-numbing bureaucracy and stereotypical government employees, and while I have certainly seen some of the former across the District, I continue to be amazed at the caliber of individual that is employed by this agency.  The enthusiasm, creativity, intelligence and dedication I have seen from any number of people is incredibly motivating and allows me to leave knowing the agency will continue to execute and fulfill its mission to the residents of the District of Columbia for many years to come.

Over the past 14 months, we have accomplished an amazing amount, but I am most proud of the significant change I have personally seen as we became a customer-focused agency.  On my sixth day on the job, I charged the agency with this mission, and you responded—while I can set the direction, the goal cannot be achieved without significant effort from each and every one of you.  In many cases, this meant fighting against years of history, structure and bureaucracy, often at personal risk, and we have without a doubt hit an inflection point in this journey.  This is evident to me when Agency Directors, CIOs or others praise the great work we do—at least once a week these days —and the pace of these acknowledgements have done nothing but increase.

I have not yet been informed who will be taking the reins from here, but rest assured, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the results of your efforts do not go unnoticed by the new leadership.

One final anecdote:  as many of you probably know, it is customary for Mayoral appointees to submit a formal resignation letter which the incoming administration chooses to accept or reject (this is what they
accepted yesterday).  I was provided a standard three-paragraph template for this letter, but I decided that the accomplishments of the agency were significant enough during my tenure that it was worth
briefly noting in the letter.

I ended up submitting a letter four pages long.

For all of this, I thank each and every one of you, and wish all of you the best of luck in your future endeavors.  As I decide my next steps, please know that as always, my door remains open.


  • anonymous

    Of course he wanted the job. He was actually committed to the work and the mission and was making great headway. OCTO has had three leaders in under 2 years -- morale had been quite low. We finally started making some progress in serving the residents under his leadership, and now we're back to being in limbo. I just wish they had considered him -- no one from the transition team bothered to even interview him. Oh well, c'est la vie for DC Gov employees.

  • AnotherDayinParadise

    OCTO was coming into its own focusing on service, not just technology products and services. Innovation in DC that lowers cost and boosts morale is hard to find in DC government and Sivak was doing that.... Fenty was not always as polite as he could have been but for Gray and his team not to have spoken directly with this director, before giving the "boot" is not exactly "classy" either. Or "unifying" or whatever the political buzzwords were that the Gray campaign was using....

  • Anon

    5 CTOs in 4 years actually:
    Suzanne Peck (8 years)
    Rob LeGrande (Interim, 5 mos)
    Vivek Kundra (18 mos)
    Chris Willey (Interim, 9 mos!)
    Bryan Sivak (14 mos)

  • Really?

    Question. How many in OCTO are on H1B Visas? Gray like Fenty can choose who he wants on his team. It's the nature of the beast. Stop crying.

  • AnotherDayinParadise

    If customer service innovation, lower costs and improving employee morale is what the new Gray appointee brings to OCTO, joy will abound. Whatever may be "natural" for a "beast" (political or otherwise) does not diminish the value of civility or the classiness of those who display it.

  • anon

    @ Really?

    Spoken like a true outsider. One of Bryan's first actions in OCTO was to convert as many contractors to FTEs as possible, unless they were really here for temporary projects (which is the whole point of IT contracting). And anyway, what does their visa status matter, as long as they're here legally and doing good work? Right?

  • QP

    Who's crying? It's just basic management. High turnover = bad. Not interviewing current leadership = sign of obvious political assignment. Just talk to the guy. Sheesh.

  • luddite_realist

    Like the alternative ecosystem where arsenic feeding bacteria lives, the government filled with agency directors and CIOs praising OCTO on a daily or weekly basis is chimerical space, that only the most imaginative (and delusional) souls seek to visit. From the constant web outages, to the unbelievable wastes of capital funds (computer rooms that are not needed, unused enterprise project management software, agency projects that went off the rails), to huge projects under its auspices that tanked, today's OCTO is a dismal place. All the QR tags and circulator twitter feeds in the world can"t make up for the complete disconnect of OCTO's perception of itself as customer friendly, agile organization from the hard, cold reality - an arrogant, not-invented-here, orwellian bureaucracy in love with its power.

  • Maximillian

    Good riddance. Bryan Sivak was an empty suit who cared only about promoting himself. In the short time he's been CTO, he's been in London at least 25% of the time.

    He wishes he were Vivek Kundra who was leaps and bounds better than he will ever be. Good riddance to that moron!!

  • DCCommish

    Good riddance. Brain Sivak was a complete ass! He was given the opportunity to hire some great people from DC. Instead he was an ass who only promoted his friends and buddies and frankly didn't do shit for DC!

  • DCCommish

    @ANON--Yes visa status does mena something. It means that someone who isn't a citizen got that job! I say we here only US citizens! We have enough unemployed US workers that we don't need to hire anyone else!

  • notaDCcommish

    By the time, Gray is gone, you will be back to dialing your phones, and using pencils and paper. LOL

  • DCexpat

    DCCommish, your poor spelling is one reason we hire from outside the country, and thank goodness for it. Ignorance deserves poverty and suffering, nothing more. Here's hoping you're poor and you suffer.

    Question, have all the people fired by Gray been non-blacks?

  • Peck is back

    Suzan Peck Fired Sivak. Suzanne Peck will be running OCTO. She was a supporter on Gray's first fundraiser.

    While a complete bitch and crooked as the letter Z. She is competent.

    Bryan Sivak, too young, had no experience, very arrogant and was highly resistant to things that his bosses wanted done.

    Good bye, jackass. And, I told you so!

    And, if it wasn't for the election...I would have gotten your ass dumped even earlier.