Obama Nominates New CIO for VA

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If confirmed by the Senate, LaVerne Horton Council would become VA's IT chief.

President Barack Obama has nominated former chief information officer of the international pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson & Johnson to serve as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ IT chief.

The White House announced Wednesday the president’s intent to nominate Laverne Horton Council to serve as VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology, more commonly known as the agency’s CIO.

Council, currently CEO of Council Advisory Services, held the CIO spot at Johnson & Johnson from 2006 to 2011 and worked as a vice president at Dell for several years before that.

If approved by the Senate, she would be the second recent top VA official recruited from the private sector in recent months. The new VA Secretary, Robert McDonald, joined the department from Procter & Gamble.

In response to last year’s watchdog reports revealing delayed treatment at VA medical centers, McDonald called for a full makeover of the department.

The CIO spot has been officially vacant since February 2013, when former CIO Roger Baker decamped for the private sector.

However, Steph Warren, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Information and Technology -- the top career employee there -- has served as the executive in charge during the vacancy.

Warren is expected to stay on as Council’s deputy,  according to VA’s Senior Media Relations Manager Genevieve Billia.

(Image via Gil C/ Shutterstock.com)