CIO Roundup: Here Are the Government’s Top Tech Chiefs So Far

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Most agency chief information officers are career officials so it's steady ahead but vacancies left by appointees need to be filled.

The Biden administration named its top federal cybersecurity policy leader Tuesday but numerous IT leadership positions across government remain vacant or in acting officials' hands, including all politically appointed chief information officers.

Here’s where the major agencies stand on CIO and other important IT positions, including appointments and job postings.

Agriculture

Gary Washington, who has served as Agriculture Department CIO since early 2018, will remain in that position, sources confirmed to Nextgov.

Commerce

The Commerce Department still lists Andre Mendes as department CIO—as does Mendes’ LinkedIn account—though the position has been a political appointee in the past. Mendes has served as Commerce CIO since August 2019.

The department did not respond to several requests for clarification.

Defense

Former intelligence community CIO John Sherman—who joined the Defense Department as principal deputy CIO in June 2020—is serving as acting DOD CIO. Sherman took over for outgoing political appointee Dana Deasy, who served as DOD CIO from 2018 through the end of the Trump administration.

Education

Jason Gray, Education Department CIO since May 2016, remained in his career position through the transition.

Energy

While the Energy Department used to have a political appointee running the agency’s tech shop, that changed after the departure of Max Everett, who took a position as vice president of the Republican National Convention in 2019.

Since Everett’s departure, the Energy CIO role has been made a career position. Rocky Campione has served as the department’s CIO since 2019 and has stayed on through the transition.

Health and Human Services

Perryn Ashmore, who was named acting CIO in September 2020, was made the permanent IT leader in December. Ashmore has been with HHS since 2014 and previously served as principal deputy CIO, customer experience executive and executive director of OCIO’s Office of Operations.

Homeland Security

Homeland Security Department CIO Karen Evans left her post on Jan. 19. The Biden team has yet to name an appointee to replace her; Deputy CIO Beth Cappello is serving as acting CIO in the interim.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, is also looking for a new CIO. Longtime CIO—including at CISA’s predecessor, the National Protection and Programs Directorate—David Epperson recently shifted to lead the agency’s internal cybersecurity efforts as CISO.

Samuel Vazquez is serving as CISA's acting CIO during the search for a permanent leader.

Housing and Urban Development

HUD’s politically appointed CIO, David Chow, left the agency Jan. 19 with the change in administration. The CIO Office leadership chart lists the position as vacant.

Christopher Webber was named to the career principal deputy CIO position this month, transitioning from CIO for the HUD Inspector General Office. Webber has had a long career in federal IT, including more than seven years in various positions at the White House.

Interior

Bill Vajda took the reins of the Interior Department OCIO in 2019. He remains in the career position through the transition.

Justice

Melinda Rogers was named deputy assistant attorney general for information resource management—the Justice Department’s CIO—in September 2020, taking over for longtime CIO Joe Klimavicz, who retired earlier that year.

Before being named CIO, Rogers served as deputy CIO and CISO within the department.

Labor

Gundeep Ahluwalia remains the career IT leader at the Labor Department, where he’s served as CIO since October 2016.

State

The new IT leader for the State Department was announced Tuesday. Keith Jones comes to the department from the private sector, though he has extensive experience working in federal agencies. Jones spent more than 15 years in IT leadership positions at various Homeland Security Department components, including headquarters, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Despite the department CIO being a career position, Trump-era CIO Stuart McGuigan left the agency on Jan. 20. Principal Deputy CIO Michael Mestrovich was serving as acting CIO until Tuesday’s announcement.

“The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management today announced that Keith A. Jones was named Chief Information Officer and the Assistant Secretary-level head, effective January 20, 2021,” the department said in a statement.

The CIO appointment rounds out State’s IT team, as, “All other senior IRM leadership are career and they will remain in place,” a spokesperson told Nextgov.

Transportation

The Transportation Department has yet to name a permanent CIO after the departure of political appointee Ryan Cote, a spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

Deputy CIO Jack Albright is currently leading Transportation’s IT office in an acting capacity.

The department has made other appointments, including naming Robert Hampshire as principal deputy assistant secretary for research and technology.

A spokesperson told Nextgov to expect more appointments soon.

Treasury

Eric Olson was elevated in 2017 from Treasury Department deputy CIO to the full CIO position—which includes CISO duties, as well. As a career role, Olson stayed on through the transition.

Veterans Affairs

Dominic Cussatt, deputy CIO, has been serving as acting CIO since political appointee James Gfrerer left with the change in administration. Prior to Gfrerer's confirmation in January 2019, the department went through three different acting officials in two years.

EPA

Vaughn Noga was named CIO and deputy assistant administrator for environmental information—career positions—in 2018 and remains in those roles today. Noga has been with EPA since 2008, serving in various IT and leadership positions.

NASA

The space agency elevated its acting CIO, Jeff Seaton, to permanent tech leader.

Seaton was serving as acting CIO since May 2020 and managed IT in several leadership positions at NASA’s Langley Research Center prior to joining headquarters.

USAID

U.S. Agency for International Development’s CIO Jay Mahanand continues his record-setting 12-year tenure as head of the agency’s IT shop. Before joining USAID, Mahanand spent 15 years leading IT efforts at various Treasury offices.

General Services Administration

The government’s chief buyer will retain its CIO, David Shive, while a former GSA CIO also returns in a new capacity. Sonny Hashmi, who spent four years in IT roles at GSA, including as CIO from 2014 to 2015, was named the new head of the Federal Acquisition Service, which was converted to a political appointee position during the Trump administration.

The administration also named a new leader for the Technology Transformation Service, former 18F Executive Director David Zvenyach.

National Science Foundation

Dorothy Aronson is staying on as CIO for the government’s scientific research support agency, a position she’s held since 2018.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

David Nelson, who has served as the career CIO for NRC since 2016, continues to lead IT efforts at the agency.

Office of Personnel Management

CIO Clare Martorana is staying on at OPM, a position she’s held since early 2019. Prior to taking the career position, Martorana spent four years with the U.S. Digital Service.

Small Business Administration

Keith Bluestein, the former acting CIO, returned to SBA as permanent CIO in June, after then-CIO Maria Roat was tapped as deputy federal CIO. Bluestein remained in his position through the transition.

Social Security Administration

Sean Brune took over as the permanent, career CIO for SSA in October and remains in that position, an agency spokesperson confirmed. Brune replaced Rajive Mathur, a political appointee who joined SSA in 2017 with the Trump administration.

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