Interior CIO heading to FDIC to take on deputy role

Sylvia Burns, the Interior Department CIO since 2014, is taking a new position in government.

Another agency chief information officer is on the move.

Sylvia Burns, the Interior Department CIO, is leaving for a new job with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, according to multiple sources.

Burns told staff Tuesday that she will be the deputy CIO for enterprise strategy at the FDIC. Sources said Burns is moving to the new role by choice and is excited for the new challenges that the FDIC will bring.

An Interior spokesman confirmed Burns’ decision and that she will be leaving her position on Sept. 7.

“She became Interior’s CIO in 2014, where she successfully led the OCIO through a comprehensive reorganization that significantly improved the delivery of Information Technology (IT) services, restructuring the IT management and reporting structure to align with the requirements of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA),” the spokesman said in an email to Federal News Radio.

Sylvia Burns is leaving as the Interior Department’s chief information officer.

Burns becomes the second CIO in as many days to leave her position. Beth Killoran, the former Department of Health and Human Services CIO, was reassigned yesterday to work with the Office of the Surgeon General.

It’s unclear who will be acting CIO with Burns leaving. Bruce Downs is the deputy CIO and has held the position since 2015.

Burns is one of the longest serving agency CIOs, ascending to that role in August 2014. She has worked for Interior since 2006 where she served as the director of information planning for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and was a division chief for portfolio management within Interior’s Office of the CIO.

Burns also is a co-chairwoman of the CIO Council’s Services, Strategy and Infrastructure (SSI) Committee.

During her time as Interior CIO, Burns helped the agency overcome a series of challenges, including the fallout from the massive data breach experienced by the Office of Personnel Management in 2015. DoI hosted the OPM personnel file database that hackers breached and resulted in 4.2 million former and current federal employees having their personal and private information stolen.

Burns used that post-breach focus on cybersecurity to deal with some longstanding cyber problems, such as implementing two-factor authentication using smart identity cards under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 for its network, remote access and for email.

The next CIO will have the charge of recompeting Interior’s cloud email and collaboration contract awarded in 2012 to Onix for Google email and apps in the cloud. Interior released a request for information in November to begin the recompete process. Interior said after it held an industry day in November that it plans to award the new contract by the end of 2018, but it’s unclear if that timeline remains intact.

Cybersecurity continues to be a challenge for Interior. While Burns made some progress, the agency’s inspector general has issued several reports detailing weaknesses.

In April, the IG found Interior lacked an enterprisewide plan to detect and respond to cyber incidents.

Auditors and the CIO’s office also disagreed back in 2016 about the state of cybersecurity as it relates to the Homeland Security Department’s continuous diagnostics and mitigation program.

Burns helped Interior make some progress under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard. In May’s scorecard, Interior received a “C+” grade, which was the same in the last two previous grading periods.

Interior’s biggest struggles under the FITARA scorecard are around data center consolidation where only 16 of a planned 88 data centers have been closed as of the last grading period, and tracking software license where the agency’s inventory only partially satisfies the MEGAByte law’s requirements.

The agency is doing well in using iterative or dev/ops for software development with 94 percent of all projects using this methodology. Burns also reduced the risk her major IT projects face from 81 percent in December 2016 to just 36 percent in May.

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