It’s official: Roat is the new deputy federal CIO

It may have taken a bit longer than expected, but Maria Roat is heading over to the Office of Management and Budget to be the deputy federal chief information officer.

Roat, who has been the CIO at the Small Business Administration since 2016, was rumored to be taking over the role in January. Instead, OMB had to open up the position and received a large number of candidates who applied for the position.

Maria Roat is the new federal Deputy CIO.

“We’re thrilled to have Maria join OFCIO and the OMB team. The experience and leadership Maria brings to the role of deputy federal CIO will be an asset to efforts to shape a secure, modern, and data driven government,” said Federal CIO Suzette Kent, in a statement.

Roat is expected to come over to OMB before the end of May. She replaces Margie Graves, who retired in December. Graves started her own consulting firm earlier this year.

The decision to bring on Roat is not surprising. Not only does she bring more than 30 years of experience in the federal IT community, but also a reputation of someone who gets things done and done well. She has transformed SBA, but also ran the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program (FedRAMP) and worked at the Transportation Department, so she brings large agency and governmentwide perspectives to her new role.

“Maria Roat is the perfect choice to become OMB’s deputy federal CIO. She is an incredibly competent, highly effective communicator and manager with the skills to turn broad strategy into successful implementation,” said Matthew Cornelius, the executive director of the Alliance for Digital Innovation and a former OMB senior technology and cybersecurity advisor, in an email to Federal News Network. “To be effective in such a large role, you must be both an effective orator and operator—and Maria clearly embodies those two critical competencies.”

Before she took over, SBA has been struggling to modernize its technology systems and infrastructure.

As Roat likes to say, she burned the bridges behind her and moved SBA to the cloud, took innovative approaches to cybersecurity and focused on the customer.

SBA now is considered, by many, to be an excellent of example of how IT modernization should work in the government. It’s not that SBA has been perfect; it did suffer a data breach during the coronavirus pandemic, but behind Roat, the agency is a much different place today than two or three years ago.

Cornelius said Roat demonstrated while at SBA that she is someone who understands how to take smart chances.

“Her strong embrace of cloud capabilities, sharp focus on improving digital service delivery for citizens, and willingness to pilot new technologies or processes to meet SBA’s mission have made her a pioneering leader in the broader federal IT community and OMB is very lucky to have her in such a pivotal, necessary role during these extraordinary times,” he said.

Roat becomes the fifth person to hold the title and role of deputy federal CIO, joining Tim Young,  Lisa Schlosser, Mike Howell and Graves.

“The deputy federal CIO role is a critical one for the government, bridging the strategic direction coming from the federal CIO and the administration to the agencies and programs,” said Young, now a principal, with Deloitte Consulting, in an email to Federal News Network. “Maria’s deep experience, both as an agency CIO and program manager, will be invaluable–especially as the current pandemic massively accelerates digital transformation efforts across the government.”