SSA taps White House tech official for CIO post

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Marcela Escobar-Alava will be starting as the CIO of the Social Security Administration on Monday.

The Social Security Administration has tapped a new chief information officer. Marcela Escobar-Alava, currently working at the White House, will start the job on Monday, according to an internal memo obtained by Nextgov/FCW. 

Currently, Escobar-Alava works as a special assistant to the president and chief of enterprise applications in the Executive Office of the President, per her Linkedin profile. She’s been at the White House since 2021, previously as deputy director of technology. 

She will be entering a CIO shop recently reorganized in a shakeup last fall. At the time, Sean Brune — formerly the agency’s CIO, as well as its deputy commissioner for systems — was moved to be the assistant deputy commissioner in the SSA operations office. 

Patrick Newbold served as the acting CIO for a time before becoming deputy CIO at NASA in January. At that time, SSA told Nextgov/FCW that Wayne Lemon would be serving as the acting CIO until a new CIO was selected. Lemon was tapped as the deputy CIO for implementation as part of the reorganization.

Escobar-Alava will be working under Martin O’Malley, the agency’s first confirmed commissioner in over two years, who recently took the helm after being confirmed by the Senate in December. The agency spent more than $2 billion on IT in fiscal year 2023, according to the Federal IT Dashboard.

"[Escobar-Alava] has a wealth of experience in successfully building highly engaged, transformative, agile, and innovative organizations with a customer-first orientation. She will make an excellent addition to our senior leadership team," O’Malley said in a statement to Nextgov/FCW.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a statement from the SSA commissioner.