Army CIO Raj Iyer to step down

U.S. Army CIO Raj Iyer speaks at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Department of DoDIIS Worldwide Conference, Dec. 14, 2022 in Texas.

U.S. Army CIO Raj Iyer speaks at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Department of DoDIIS Worldwide Conference, Dec. 14, 2022 in Texas. Myles Scrinopskie / Defense Intelligence Agency

The former industry executive had served as the Army's top information technology officer for more than two years, but will depart the service "over the next several weeks."

Army chief information officer Raj Iyer — the former executive tasked with devising the digital transformation of the armed service — said in a Jan. 4 LinkedIn post that he would be leaving the position after more than two years of service.

Iyer — whose government career has included technology positions at the Department of Health and Human Services and Army Materiel Command — wrote that with his contract set to expire that he planned to return to the private sector after helping develop the Army's digital modernization strategy.

"I will watch the fruits of our work for many years to come from the outside with pride. While so much of what we accomplished is visible now, the biggest accomplishments will not be seen for a few more years," he said in the post. "If I felt that the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into this could be at risk I would stay on, but as I noted, the current change in our Army is irreversible. My job as the CIO is done when Army senior leaders can explain the Army Digital Transformation Strategy just as well as I."

Iyer was hired as Army CIO in November 2020 after previously serving as Deloitte's managing director for government and public services. Tasked with developing the Army's digital strategy at a time when the pandemic had sent much of the Pentagon and defense industrial base into a remote-work post, Iyer set about fundamentally reshaping the service's approach to technology. 

"If there is a commander in the field that wants to leverage technology to meet the mission outcomes and there's some policy that's standing in the way, to me that's the first thing we're going to go after," while balancing cyber and other risks, he said in January 2021.

Part of the approach included implementing IT category management practices to help cull an estimated $2 billion in cost overruns that were outside the Army's IT budget.

It also included a strong shift toward cloud capabilities. The digital transformation strategy debuted in September 2021 with a plan to split the CIO role between IT and network communications and policy functions and focused modernization on goals like cloud adoption, strengthening cybersecurity and updating business systems and technology infrastructure.

Defense Department CIO John Sherman said in response to Iyer's LinkedIn post that he'd "made a huge impact in terms of modernizing and transforming the Department of the Army's IT, cybersecurity, and overall technology posture in areas like AI, data and others. You made hard decisions and took the Army towards new and needed pathways--you showed moral courage, technical acumen, care for the force, and, above all, true leadership."

Iyer didn't disclose his final day in the CIO role beyond saying in the post that he will be "transitioning out over the next several weeks."