HHS CIO Mathias moving to engineering role at NASA

Jennifer Wendell, the Department of Health and Human Services deputy CIO, will serve as acting CIO until a permanent one is hired.

The Department of Health and Human Services is back in the market for a chief information officer.

Karl Mathias, the lead technology executive at HHS since March 2022, is leaving to take a new role at NASA.

Karl Mathias is taking a new job at NASA after spending the last 20 months as the HHS CIO.

In an email to staff, obtained by Federal News Network, Mathias said his last day at HHS will be Dec. 1.

“It has been my honor to serve as your leader for the past 20 months. In that time, we have made great strides: We’ve established a strategic direction for our cybersecurity posture within HHS, strengthened our cybersecurity partnership with the nation’s healthcare providers, created a strong strategy for how we manage our data, enhanced our operational posture by reducing average wait times on the service desk to less than 60 seconds, dropped our aged ticket queue by nearly 92%, fielded systems that ensured the safety of unaccompanied minors at the southern border, and carefully evaluated acquisition packages worth billions of dollars to ensure proper use of information technology,” Mathias wrote. “These are only a tiny snapshot of the many accomplishments we’ve achieved since my arrival. I stand in awe of your dedication and professionalism.”

Mathias didn’t specifically say what his new role will be at NASA, just one that “brings me close to a mission I love and allows me to get back into the engineering realm.”

He has a PhD in computer science and software engineering from Auburn University and once served as the deputy head of the electrical engineering department at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

HHS deputy CIO Jennifer Wendel will serve as acting CIO until a permanent one is hired. Additionally, La Monte Yarborough, the HHS chief information security officer, will serve as acting deputy CIO.

Wendel came to HHS in January from the FBI, where she was the acting FBI deputy CIO for three years and worked at the bureau for 17 years.

Mathias’ departure marks more turnover in the HHS CIO office. He was the eight permanent or acting CIO in seven years.

Whomever the next CIO is inherits one of the largest federal IT budgets at more than $8.5 billion in fiscal 2023. But the person also will have to deal with one of most disparate organizations across government.

HHS received a “B” on the September version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard, the sixth straight.

Before coming to HHS, Mathias served as the Marshals Service’s CIO since 2015. In that role, he created a disciplined process to bring more applications and systems into the cloud. He has invested time and energy into creating an IT investment governance process as well as ensuring there is room for innovation and new technology.

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