Former head of DHS digital service to be new CIO

Eric Hysen worked on the Biden transition team before heading to Homeland Security.

Eric Hysen, the former executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s digital service, is returning to be the agency’s new chief information officer.

Hysen worked on the Biden transition team and started at DHS on Feb. 1, according to multiple sources.

He will replace Karen Evans, who was the DHS CIO since May and left on Jan. 20 at the end of the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed that Hysen returned as a senior adviser within the Office of the Chief Information Officer. The White House is expected to appoint him as CIO in the coming weeks.

Hysen served as executive director of the DHS digital service from 2015 to 2017, and before that he was a founding member of the White House’s U.S. Digital Service in 2014.

Before coming back to DHS, Hysen was a senior fellow for the National Conference on Citizenship, where he led a joint project with the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to identify concrete recommendations for innovations in refugee policy, personnel, process and systems to reinvigorate U.S. humanitarian diplomacy, maintain the rigorous vetting of refugees and securely increase refugee admissions multifold.

He also worked at Google as the product and program lead for civic engagement and was the special consultant in the California state office of digital innovation.

Hysen inherits a DHS technology infrastructure that is undergoing a major transformation. Evans, and John Zangardi before her, pushed the data center consolidation and cloud effort forward. DHS recently issued a new solicitation for data center and cloud optimization support services for its hybrid computing environment. Bids for the RFP were due Jan. 28.

Evans also pushed DHS toward more digital innovation, making tools like electronic signatures commonplace during the pandemic and improving specific business processes. She also started down a path to reduce the number of contracts DHS relied on. Evans said in September that her goal was not to reduce the vendor workforce, but save money by consolidating similar contracts.

Hysen inherits a $7.3 billion IT budget for fiscal 2021, which was the same amount in 2020, according to the Federal IT Dashboard. DHS said 83% of its projects are on schedule and 86% are on budget.

DHS received a “C” in the December 2020 scorecard under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.

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