OPM brings on digital services experts to jumpstart modernization efforts

The Office of Personnel Management has turned over its technology leadership and brought in U.S. Digital Service experts. The agency names Clare Martorana and David Nesting as its new chief information officer and deputy CIO, respectively.

Martorana replaces David Garcia, who has been CIO since October 2017. Nesting replaces Rob Leahy, who left OPM in October to rejoin the IRS.

At USDS, Martorana focused on digital modernization for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, she also served as general manager for the WebMD Network.

Clare Martorana is the new chief information officer for the Office of Personnel Management.

Nesting previously served as director of engineering for USDS and as site reliability engineer at Google.

Government sources familiar with OPM say Garcia grew frustrated over the “bureaucracy” of the agency, but managed to get quite a bit done.

One source, who requested anonymity because they didn’t get permission to speak to the press, said the OPM CIO role is “brutal” and takes a toll on everyone who is in it.

In fact, Martorana becomes the fifth CIO since 2015.

Another source, who also requested anonymity because they didn’t get permission to speak to the press, said the impending merger between OPM and both the General Services Administration and the Defense Department has hurt morale and made it hard to retain workers.

The first source said improvements to OPM’s technology have been severely limited over the last year because of resources and a hesitancy to change anything ahead of the potential merger.

Sources say Garcia accomplished a lot at OPM, specifically by focusing on foundational processes such as patch management, change management, customer service and — of course — cybersecurity.

One source said Garcia was playing “small ball” around IT modernization in order to set the stage for large challenges like retirement system improvements.

The source said under Garcia’s watch internal and external customers received better service and OPM suffered fewer IT outages.

“I think David changed OPM for the better and built a good foundation that hopefully others can build on,” said the second source. “He just faced a corporate culture that is not willing to invest and questions everything. And then they go behind the CIO’s back to higher up leadership to slow down changes, and that all makes it hard to be successful.”

The first source said the impending mergers are creating even more challenges for OPM’s IT infrastructure.

“The train is on the tracks, but getting additional stuff implemented is getting difficult,” said the first source. “OPM is not able to modernize like they need to. They do not have the management in place to make decisions because they are so understaffed.”

Sources say bringing in USDS executives may help refocus OPM’s IT modernization efforts, especially if they bring the mentality and moxie that USDS has become known for over the last eight years.

“Personally, I am grateful for Mr. Garcia’s steady hand and commitment to our CIO team and its mission during a time of great change. It has been a pleasure to work alongside him,” said Weichert in a release. “Through his leadership, OPM has made critical updates and improvements, resulting in stronger, more efficient systems. We are grateful for the impact Mr. Garcia has made on the agency during his tenure and wish him well.”

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