OMB Confirms Appointment of Controversial New Federal CISO

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Camilo Sandoval, a former acting CIO for the Veterans Affairs Department, was the director of the Trump campaign’s data operations in 2016.

The White House has quietly filled the position of federal chief information security officer. Camilo Sandoval has been serving in the role for the past month, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

A spokesperson for OMB confirmed that a recent entry on a government website by Sandoval under the new title was not an accident and told Nextgov he started in the post last month. Why there was no announcement of Sandoval’s appointment remains unclear. 

Meritalk first reported on the expected appointment of Sandoval as well as Office of Personnel Management Chief of Staff Basil Parks for the role of chief information officer. There is no news on the appointment of a new federal CIO.

In the blog post, Sandoval praised recent progress in cybersecurity and flagged new activities expected in relation to cloud services and the Federal Acquisition Security Council, which is in charge of recommending exclusion and removal orders. 

“When thinking about cloud services and cloud security, supply chain risk management is certainly a topic that comes to mind,” he wrote. “With the release of the Federal Acquisition Security Council interim final rule, the interagency council is building on its risk evaluation of covered articles that pose a significant risk to the federal enterprise. There is more to come in the new year on the FASC efforts!”

But the new year could bring a new administration and lawmakers have expressed misgivings about Sandoval’s experience and ties to the Trump campaign.

Sandoval has worked in public and private-sector roles that involved software engineering and signals intelligence, as well as consulting, management and investment banking.

Sandoval most notably previously served in government as acting chief information officer of the Veterans Affairs Department. That appointment in 2018 saw opposition from Democratic members of Congress concerned about his engagement as director of the Trump campaign’s data operations with the firm Cambridge Analytica, which harvested the data of Facebook users without their knowledge. 

The 11 senators also noted outstanding questions of his character connected to a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination, slander and harassment of a colleague.