DHS CIO Zangardi leaving for industry executive role

Department of Homeland Security Chief Information Officer John Zangardi is leaving for a private sector role.

Zangardi told staff in an email obtained by Federal News Network that his last day was Friday.

Sources said Zangardi will be joining Leidos in late-November. A Ledios spokesperson confirmed on Nov. 18 that  Zangardi will be joining the company, but said he will not be in the executive vice president role. The spokesperson said more details will be available next week on Zangardi’s role.

John Zangardi is leaving after almost two years as the CIO of the Department of Homeland Security.

“At the last all-hands, you heard me call out our many successes across the entire organization. Your accomplishments delivering modern and secure IT is critical to the department’s mission success and our Nation’s security. None of what you have done is easy,” Zangardi wrote in an email to staff. “I am proud of the sacrifices you all have made supporting mission and I am proud to have served alongside you. Constant change is the norm in our business. There will always be a new product, a new security threat, or a better process. IT and cybersecurity are dynamic. Equilibrium or status quo cannot be the end goal of our efforts. DHS OCIO can’t rest on its laurels. The current leadership is poised to continue to improve on what has been accomplished.”

Beth Cappello, the DHS deputy CIO, is expected to be the acting CIO. She joined headquarters earlier this fall from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement directorate.

Zangardi joined DHS just over two years ago, coming from the Defense Department, where he was first named as DoD’s principal deputy CIO in October 2016, and later became the department’s acting CIO when its former top IT official, Terry Halvorsen, retired at the end of February 2017. Prior to that, Zangardi, a retired naval officer, had been the acting CIO for the Department of the Navy.

“After three decades of military and government service, I feel the time is right for me to try my hand at something different,” Zangardi wrote. “I am going to take a very short break from work and then dive right back into the excitement.”

During Zangardi’s tenure at DHS, he pushed major changes throughout the agency. First, he mandated DHS move to Windows 10 and accomplished the move in his first year.

Zangardi also advocated for a more coordinated move to the cloud across the agency and its components, creating a cloud center of excellence and pushing for a managed service approach to the agency’s IT infrastructure.

Additionally, Zangardi recognized one of the biggest challenges with moving to the cloud was the application or platform security authorizations. He launched the “authority to proceed” process to address timeliness challenges without losing the necessary security rigor.

A fourth accomplishment is the DHS data center consolidation and optimization effort. Congress recognized DHS’ progress in the fiscal 2019 budget by giving the agency $60 million more than they requested to continue modernization and cloud transition efforts.

Not everything Zangardi touched came up success. The initial cloud consolidation effort seemed to lose steam with each component continuing to strike their own path. Additionally, the financial management modernization effort that is underway has drawn industry criticism.

The Government Accountability Office reported that for the 15th consecutive year, the agency’s inspector general identified weaknesses in DHS’ IT control that call into question the accuracy of the department’s financial statements. GAO also said DHS has not identified its IT staffing needs for specialty areas like cybersecurity management as required by the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act.

FedScoop first reported Zangardi’s decision to leave.

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