DoD, VA lose senior IT executives

Maybe it’s a sign of the times or a case of reading the handwriting on the wall, but the announced departures of two senior IT executives from the Defense Department and the Veterans Affairs Department, respectively, are further examples of the steady turnover that’s happening across the government.

Ron Jost, DoD’s deputy assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications, cyber and business systems, confirmed through a DoD spokeswoman that he is retiring.

Jost said he plans to continue to support DoD after he leaves the government. He offered no timeline for his departure nor did the spokeswoman provide who would be replacing Jost event on an interim basis.

He joined DoD in 2003 after spending the previous 26 years with Motorola.

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During his tenure, Jost oversaw warfighting communications, command, control and cyberspace capabilities. He also led the effort to support non-intelligence space systems.

Among his projects, Jost led an effort to expedite the purchase of cyber capabilities. In 2011, for example, he was part of an effort to streamline the development of requirements, acquisition and the testing process for new cyber capabilities.

Jost also played a significant role in ensuring DoD shared radio spectrum resources and capabilities.

One industry source says Jost may be leaving more due to frustration than anything else. The source says new language in the Defense authorization bill that shifts some acquisition responsibilities out of the undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics as well as ongoing challenges with IT and cyber acquisitions may have pushed Jost toward retirement.

Over at VA, Greg Ambrose, VA’s deputy CIO for product development, is leaving after only five months on the job. Ambrose joined VA from the State Department in June with a goal of further implementing an agile project management process.

FCW first reported Ambrose leaving VA.

Ambrose becomes the third in what is expected to be a growing list of executive departures at VA. Steph Warren, the CIO for the last two-plus years and long-time principal deputy CIO, left to join the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in August, and Stan Lowe, VA’s chief information security officer, retired in August after 25 years in government.

Ambrose’s departure is part of what seems to be a house-cleaning in VA’s technology office by new CIO LaVerne Council.

Council, who spoke at the Government IT Executive Council (GITEC) event in Washington on Oct. 15, didn’t directly address personnel issues. But she talked about the changes and new focus from her office such as establishing a “buy first” mentality versus VA’s long-held “build-first” approach to technology.

She also said a focus on project and product management and a better use of data to make decisions are part of her vision for the Office of Information and Technology.

So don’t be surprised to see more turnover at VA as Council continues to shape the organization to her liking.

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