Renato “Renny” DiPentima, Ph.D. ’84, policy sciences, had a distinguished career in the Social Security Administration, where he rose to the rank of deputy commissioner and served on numerous governmental task forces and advisory boards. He was also selected by Government Computer News as the Government Executive of the Year in 1993. After leaving Social Security, DiPentima was president and CEO of SRA International, a company he helped build into a leading provider of information technology services and solutions throughout the federal government. DiPentima was also the recipient of UMBC’s Alumni of the Year Award in 2004.
UMBC Magazine asked DiPentima – the first recipient of a Ph.D. in the program – to reminisce about his experiences in one of UMBC’s signature fields of advanced study.
I remember well that day over 30 years ago when I made the pilgrimage from UMBC’s Administration Building to the Albin O. Kuhn Library and then back to Administration Building to register as one of UMBC’s first public policy Ph.D. students. It was the beginning of a truly rewarding experience that significantly influenced my career and life going forward.
At the time I entered the program, I was a senior manager at the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Woodlawn, and had responsibility for the agency’s advanced systems.
Five years earlier, SSA had inherited the welfare programs for the aged, blind, and disabled across the United States. This implementation and transition from 50 states and four territories had been fraught with problems and major policy and systems failures. Having witnessed it firsthand as a participant in its planning and implementation, I became increasingly more interested in the interplay between policy and technology and why large programs failed.
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