OPM in search of IT transformation expert

The Office of Personnel Management is looking for a new chief information officer to take the reins of its IT modernization program.

The agency, which released a job announcement on USAJobs.gov June 1, wants both an IT executive and a digital services expert.

“At OPM, we have begun undergoing a modernization of our infrastructure, our security capabilities and are about to approach in a much more aggressive way the modernization of our applications. As such we’ve got strong momentum going, but we have not completed any of those tasks. There will be work to go, and we need a leader to continue that momentum,” said Clif Triplett, a senior cyber and information technology adviser at OPM, during a conference call with reporters on June 1. “The big opportunity to lead our two major initiatives — on the cybersecurity front, we are much farther down the road toward completion of our initial goals and objectives. We still have a major objective to consolidate our data centers so there is a data center consolidation initiative we will ask this person to help us lead. Concurrently, we are looking to modernize our suite of applications.”

Triplet said the application modernization effort initially will focus on software in the new National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB), and the long-standing challenge of upgrading the apps running the retirement system.

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Triplet said both the White House and Congress are providing OPM with the necessary support and funding for the initiatives.

He declined to say how much funding OPM was in line to get. But President Barack Obama requested in his fiscal 2017 budget an additional $37 million for OPM’s IT and cybersecurity programs across the board. The agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer could get $55 million in 2017, $24 million more than what it’s projected to spend this year, and far more than the $15 million the OCIO spent in 2015.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government recently approved $37 million for OPM’s infrastructure program, called the “shell” program.

OPM has been without a  permanent CIO since February when Donna Seymour resigned amid congressional scrutiny about her role in the massive cyber breach the agency suffered last year. Lisa Schlosser has been acting CIO since March.

Applications for the CIO’s job are due June 22.

“One of my mandates for coming here was also to help build an environment for success for whoever takes on this role in the future,” said Schlosser, who declined to say if she was interested in the position on a permanent basis. “I think between what Clif was describing in terms of the fact there is a transformation strategy now for OPM, both looking at applications as well as the infrastructure, it’s on a good path right now. I do think that we have put together an environment where we are encouraging the best of the best leaders to come in. There is a real opportunity to take this agency now and move it rapidly in to a real solid digital organization.”

Schlosser credited acting OPM Director Beth Cobert for changing the environment for the CIO. She said Cobert has been the driving force to implement the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), thus giving the CIO more authorities and responsibilities.

“OPM has implemented a new governance structure and associated processes and authorities that actually provide the CIO centralized oversight and management of all aspects of IT,” Schlosser said. “The OPM CIO does have visibility into all IT systems, development efforts as well as spend and procurements, and is part of the approval process for any IT related procurement or budget action with tight coordination with the CFO organization and chief procurement officer organization.”

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