Campbell out as MHS CIO, Gates to close Defense CIO's office

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also puts a hold on the nomination of Dr. Jonathan Woodson to be assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.

The Military Health System on Aug. 5 abruptly transferred its chief information officer to a temporary assignment at the Defense Department's office of the chief information officer, an organization the department will soon shutter, Nextgov has learned.

Multiple government and industry sources confirmed that Charles Campbell was detailed to the CIO's office, also known as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, this month, but Pentagon and MHS spokesmen did not reply to queries for official confirmation as of press deadline.

Sources told Nextgov that Mary Ann Rockey, MHS deputy CIO for acquisition, will take over Campbell's duties while he is on a 120-day assignment at ASD/NII.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a press briefing on Monday that he planned to eliminate ASD/NII in an effort to cut $100 billion from the Pentagon budget during the next five years.

In the wake of Gates' plan to eliminate the technology office, Campbell's transfer to ASD/NII looks like he is being pushed out of a top management position, said sources familiar with the transfer and who asked to remain anonymous.

At about the same time Gates was making his announcement, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., put a hold on the nomination of Dr. Jonathan Woodson to be assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs. Woodson said at his confirmation hearing on Aug. 3 that he considered development of a new electronic health record for Defense one of his key priorities. Woodson is a vascular surgeon who practices at the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts and is an associate dean at Boston University.

Tara DiJulio, a spokeswoman for Wicker, said the senator put the nomination on hold because he was concerned about an amendment to the Senate version of the fiscal 2011 Defense authorization bill that would allow military servicewomen to obtain abortion care at military hospitals even if they use their own funds. Wicker spent most of his time at Woodson's confirmation hearing to voice his opposition to the amendment, which Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., sponsored.

DiJulio said Wicker did not believe Woodson adequately addressed concerns about the impact the amendment would have on military hospitals, and he will keep the nomination on hold until Woodson provides detailed answers to questions the senator asked at the hearing.

Campbell's transfer puts development of a new Defense electronic health record system on hold and leaves a leadership vacuum for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, a medical record for all service members and veterans that Defense is creating in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs Department, sources told Nextgov. But the move will make it easier for Woodson to pick his own CIO when and if confirmed, sources said.