VA CIO Announces Immediate Departure

Veteran Affairs Department acting CIO Scott Blackburn

Veteran Affairs Department acting CIO Scott Blackburn Susan Montoya Bryan/AP

Scott Blackburn joined the VA in 2014 and served as acting CIO since September.

The Veterans Affairs Department acting Chief Information Officer Scott Blackburn announced Tuesday he will step down from his post, effective immediately.

VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour confirmed Blackburn's resignation to Nextgov, and said the agency "will be announcing his replacement shortly."

One of the agency’s leading technology experts, Blackburn joined VA in 2014 to lead the MyVA Transformation before taking over the CIO office in September 2017. Since then, he spearheaded efforts to modernize the agency’s outdated electronic health records system.

“I wish the very best for those in VA who are dedicated to caring for Veterans and I will pray every day for their success,” he said in a resignation letter posted on Twitter. “I will remain both VA’s biggest cheerleader and critic from afar.”

Blackburn didn’t specify the reasons for his sudden departure but thanked both former VA secretaries Robert McDonald and David Shulkin for the “tremendous opportunities” they created at the agency. Shulkin was fired on March 28 and President Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to take the helm of the government’s second largest agency.

Blackburn’s resignation could throw another wrench into the agency’s $16 billion effort to fix decades-long interoperability issues between VA and Pentagon health records.

The contract with the tech firm Cerner would bring VA onto the same commercial health records platform as the Pentagon, an effort that came after VA wasted billions in a years-long effort to improve record sharing between the agencies. Shulkin expected to finalize the deal within weeks before his ouster, and a vacancy in the agency’s top tech post could through the massive contract into further disarray.

News of Blackburn’s departure was first reported by Federal News Radio.

The Trump administration has operated with many vacancies in top tech and cyber positions since taking office. In the last week, two of the administration's top cybersecurity advisers, Tom Bossert and Rob Joyce, also resigned.

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