Pentagon names former J.P. Morgan official as its new CIO

The Defense Department said Thursday that it had picked its next top information technology official, filling a role that’s been vacant since last February.

Dana Deasy, who most recently had been the chief information officer at J.P. Morgan Chase, will join DoD as its new CIO sometime in early May.

Dana White, the Pentagon’s top spokeswoman, told reporters that Deasy’s selection reflected a commitment on behalf of Defense Secretary James Mattis to “reform the way we do business.”

“To do that, we need top-notch talent,” she said. “In his position, he will be responsible for how we manage and use information, communications and cybersecurity. This is particularly important as we adopt cloud technology to make more informed and timely decisions on the battlefield. He will also bring greater accountability to the department’s information security posture. “

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Deasy retired from J.P. Morgan last September after having served as its CIO for the past four years. Earlier last year, he attracted attention in the financial services sector as a strong advocate for the use of public cloud computing technologies, and began moving some of the banking giant’s own systems to the cloud.

“Public cloud is serious,” he told the Wall Street Journal in a March interview. “It’s time to move,” he said, arguing that large cloud service providers had matured their security posture over the past two years to a point that financial firms could feel comfortable using them to host their sensitive systems and data.

Patrick Shanahan, the deputy secretary of Defense, first indicated that Deasy would be joining the department in some capacity during a brief speech last week, but did not specify at the time what his precise role would be.

“He managed 43,000 IT professionals and put cybersecurity and a whole host of really advanced technologies from a computing standpoint in place,” Shanahan said of Deasy at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security. “I think our risk tolerance is going to go higher, because we’re taking on people who’ve managed risk and demonstrated at scale how to deal with risk. So I’m pretty excited about what we’re going to do when it comes to IT modernization, when it comes to business intelligence. We already have 500-some cloud projects going on, and we’re going to get our arms around it, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The Defense Department has lacked a permanent CIO since last February, when Terry Halvorsen retired from government to join Samsung. The role has been filled on an acting basis since then, first by John Zangardi — who left DoD last October to become the new CIO at Homeland Security — and then by Essye Miller, the deputy CIO for cybersecurity who currently leads the office.

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