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The shifting state of federal CIOs

Overseeing billions of dollars in IT budgets is more than enough to subject federal CIOs to the white hot glare of the public spotlight. At the very least, those who are unable to overcome the perception of IT serving as a cost center break a sweat or can be removed.

Federal CIOs share virtually the same responsibilities of their corporate counterparts but with the added burden of national security. They are inevitably associated with the current administration despite the apolitical nature of most agencies.

Government IT leadership is reliant upon the transparencies in an agency’s C-suite structure, for without it, deployment of new strategies is threatened if not extinguished entirely.

In recent months, federal CIOs have retired, resigned or been removed, but these shifts complicate planned actions initiated by the former CIO.

Squandered by mandated agency-wide regulation and system maintenance, creativity takes a backseat, a point of frustration for CIOs eager to present blueprints capable of better streamlining business processes.

CIO Dive is examining the current state of federal IT leadership. Included is a look at 19 federal agencies with the largest IT budgets in FY16 and the Office of the Federal CIO, which directs the use of federal IT.

Check out the departments with the largest budgets
garcia
Gregory L. GarciaArmy Corps of Engineers
washington
Gary WashingtonDepartment of Agriculture
turk
Rod TurkDepartment of Commerce
miller
Essye MillerDepartment of Defense
gray
Jason GrayDepartment of Education
everett
Max EverettDepartment of Energy
fine
Steven FineEnvironmental Protection Agency
graves
Margie GravesOffice of the Federal CIO
shive
David ShiveGeneral Services Administration
killoran
Beth Anne KilloranDepartment of Health & Human Services
zangardi
John ZangardiDepartment of Homeland Security
burns
Sylvia BurnsDepartment of the Interior
klimavicz
Joseph F. KlimaviczDepartment of Justice
ahluwalia
Gundeep AhluwaliaDepartment of Labor
wynn
Renee WynnNational Aeronautics and Space Administration
mathur
Rajive MathurSocial Security Administration
Robert AdamsDepartment of State
hildebrand
Vicki HildebrandDepartment of Transportation
Eric OlsonDepartment of the Treasury
blackburn
Scott BlackburnDepartment of Veterans Affairs

Trends & Insight

What happens after one of the largest government data breaches in US history?

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How CIOs can overcome 'duct tape' maintenance to harness creativity

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The 10 best zingers from the Congressional watchdog

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Faced with CIO turnover, what is federal IT to do?

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How the National Science Foundation cut its data center in half

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How a decentralized approach to IT put the DOT at risk

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How the VA is using technology to increase veterans' access to services

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Inside the federal law that promotes CIO authority

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About the CIOs

Check out the departments with the largest budgets
Army Corps of Engineers Budget: $451M

Gregory L. Garcia

Status Current

Tenure February 2016 – present

Predecessor Robert Kazimer May 2010 – December 2015

In the news

For FY 2016, about 88% of the department's IT projects remained on budget and 79% of projects complied with the allotted timeline, according to the federal IT Dashboard.

Department of AgricultureBudget: $3B

Gary Washington

Status Acting

Tenure September 2017 – present

Predecessor: Jonathan Alboum June 2015 – August 2017 (removed as CIO and reassigned to senior procurement role in USDA)

In the news

In September, USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue, announced plans to eliminate “redundant administrative support functions” including the 22 CIOs in the USDA’s various branches.

Department of CommerceBudget: $2.4B

Rod Turk

Status Acting

Tenure January 2017 – present

Predecessor Steven Cooper June 2014 – January 2017

In the news

The DOC was one of just four federal agencies to receive a ‘B+’ for the most recent FITARA scoring. However, it received a ‘C’ for both CIO authority and data center optimization initiatives.

Department of Defense Budget: $31B

Essye Miller

Status Acting

Tenure December 2017 - present

PredecessorJohn Zangardi, acting CIOMarch 2017 – October 2017 Terry Halvorsen June 2014 – February 2017

In the news

The U.S. Air Force, a branch of the DOD, is working to revamp its IT strategy and modernize communication, collaboration and management tools as part of a $1 billion, five-year contract.

Department of Education Budget: $700M

Jason Gray

Status Current

Tenure May 2016 – present

Predecessor Danny Harris October 2008 – February 2016

In the news

In May, the CIOs of the IRS and Department of Education both faced criticism from the House Oversight Committee after a data breach of a student financial aid applications tool potentially impacted about 100,000 Americans.

Department of Energy Budget: $2B

Max Everett

Status Current

Tenure July 2017 – present

In the news

The Energy Department raised its October 2015 FITARA score of an F to a ‘C-’, according to the most recent FITARA report.

Environmental Protection Agency Budget: $423M

Steven Fine

Status Acting

Tenure January 2017 – present

Predecessor Ann Dunkin February 2015 – January 2017

In the news

The EPA reported 92% of its IT projects remained on schedule while 88% remained on budget, according to the federal IT Dashboard.

Office of the Federal CIO Budget: $27M

Margie Graves

Status Acting

Tenure January 2017 - present

Predecessor Tony Scott February 2015 – January 2017

In the news

Former federal CIO Tony Scott said vast improvements occurred during the Obama administration for federal IT. He commends the implementation of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) as a piece of legislation, which will withstand inevitable changes to overall IT strategy and transformations.

General Services Administration Budget: $768M

David Shive

Status Current

Tenure August 2015 – present

Predecessor Sonny Hashmi January 2014 – March 2015

In the news

The GSA is considering developing a civilian cybersecurity campus in Washington D.C., aimed at centralizing its facilities instead of continuing to lease space from the Department of Homeland Security.

Department of Health and Human Services Budget: $14B

Beth Anne Killoran

Status Current

Tenure July 2016 – present (previously acting CIO)

PredecessorFrank Baitman February 2012 - November 2015

In the news

HHS requires healthcare organizations to report breaches within 60 days of detection.

Department of Homeland Security Budget: $6.8B

John Zangardi

Status Current

Tenureappointed in October 2017

PredecessorsStephen Rice, acting CIOSeptember 2017 – present Richard Staropoli May 2017 – September 2017 Luke McCormack December 2013 – May 2017

In the news

The DHS announced in September that all federal agencies remove Kaspersky Lab software from computer networks following mounting criticisms and accusations for its alleged Kremlin ties.

Department of the Interior Budget: $1.2B

Sylvia Burns

Status Current

Tenure October 2014 – present

Predecessor Bernard Mazer June 2010 – July 2014

In the news

The Department of the Interior has a relatively high FITARA score of a ‘B’ for CIO authority, portfolio, and transparency and risk management. However, an ‘F’ score in data center optimization brought its overall score to a ‘C+.’

Department of Justice Budget: $2.7B

Jay F. Klimavicz

Status Current

Tenure May 2014 – present

Predecessor Luke McCormack March 2012 – November 2013

In the news

From 2015-2016, the DOJ received 28 recommendations regarding program efficiency and resource management for its different branches including the DEA and FBI, according to a GAO report from March 2017. However, at least eight of those recommendations have not been completed and four were disputed.

Department of LaborBudget: $703M

Gundeep Ahluwalia

Status Current

Tenure October 2016 – present

Predecessor Dawn Leaf 2014 – September 2016

In the news

The Department of Labor’s overall FITARA score was downgraded from a ‘D’ to a ‘D-’ after scoring an ‘F’ for both CIO authority and data center optimization initiatives, according to the most recent report.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Budget: $1.5B

Renee Wynn

Status Current

Tenure September 2015 – present

Predecessor Larry Sweet June 2013 – October 2015 (stayed on as advisory through November but she took on role in September)

In the news

Last year, the inspector general concluded the consistent turnover in NASA’s cybersecurity leadership was weakening the standard of protections.

Social Security Administration Budget: $1.6B

Rajive Mathur

Status Current

Tenure June 2017 – present

Predecessor Rob Klopp August 2015 – April 2017

In the news

Because of the SSA’s handling of mass PII, it uses multi-factor authentication controls to protect gateways to sensitive data. To maintain security practices, the administration also has mandatory training for in-house employees and contractors.

Department of State Budget: $1.9B

Robert Adams

Status Acting

TenureDecember 2017 – present

Predecessor Frontis B. Wiggins III Nov. 2016 – Dec. 2017Steve Taylor April 2013 – July 2016

In the news

The Office of the Inspector General audited the DOS’ configuration control board (CCB) to find that the department resolved 15 of the 17 recommendations regarding its IT CCB , according the September 2017 report.

Department of Transportation Budget: $3.4B

Vicki Hildebrand

Status Current

Tenure October 2017 – present

PredecessorKristen Baldwin January 2017 – October 2017Richard McKinney May 2013 - January 2017

In the news

Before the DOT could migrate to Microsoft 365, the agency had to upgrade its network, particularly after it found 200 pieces of network gear on its systems that the agency was unaware of.

Department of the Treasury Budget: $4.3B

Eric Olson

Status Acting

Tenure July 2017 – present

Predecessor Sonny BhagowaliaOctober 2014 – July 2017 (CIO repositioned in Bureau of Fiscal Service)

In the news

As of August 2016, the Treasury Department closed 65% of its 872 total reported data centers, according to a May 2017 GAO report.

Department of Veterans Affairs Budget: $4.4B

Scott Blackburn

Status Acting

TenureSeptember 2017 – present

Predecessor Rob Thomas, acting CIO January 2017 – October 2017 LaVerne Council July 2015 – January 2017

In the news

The VA is working to consolidate all its transaction-based web services serving the 11 million veterans that use the VA onto one portal at Vets.gov.

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Design: Jordan Branch and Natalie Forman/Industry Dive