Education moves quickly to name a new CIO

Jason Gray comes over to the Education Department from the Transportation Department to replace Danny Harris as the CIO. State Department CIO Steve Taylor is ex...

The Education Department didn’t wait long to find a new chief information officer. Just three months after embattled CIO Danny Harris decided to retire, Education named Jason Gray as its new highest ranking IT executive.

In an email to staff obtained by Federal News Radio, James Cole, Education’s general counsel who is delegated the duties of the deputy secretary, said Gray joined the agency May 31.

“Jason brings years of experience in the planning, development, delivery, and monitoring of technical solutions that address the needs of his customers in support of their mission,” Cole wrote. “While Jason has significant experience leading IT organizations, it is his strong track record of creating and maintaining a positive work environment that promotes open communication and high ethical standards that makes him the right choice to lead OCIO.”

Gray comes to Education after spending the last 17 months as the Transportation Department’s associate CIO for IT policy and oversight.

In that role, Gray helped oversee department policy, governance and compliance in managing DoT’s $3.5 billion IT budget.

Cole said while at DoT, Gray led the implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).

Since Harris left, Ken Moore has been acting CIO.

Gray also worked at the Veterans Affairs Department as a senior adviser for the customer advocate for benefits, was the CIO for the Defense Manpower Data Center and worked in several other technology executive roles in and out of government during his career.

Jason Gray became the Education Department's CIO on May 31.
Jason Gray became the Education Department’s CIO on May 31.

Education now will look to fill the deputy CIO role, which Steve Grewal left in May to join the General Services Administration. Applications are due June 14.

Gray will face several challenges, including improving Education’s cyber posture and repairing the trust in Congress.

Gray inherits a $689 million IT budget for 2016 and the President requested a significant increase of $29 million for fiscal 2017.

According to the IT Dashboard, Education is in a little better shape than most agencies, spending 18.2 percent on development, modernization and enhancement, 63.8 percent on legacy systems and 18 percent on provisioned services.

Along with Education, the Department of State also is seeing changes in its CIO office.

State CIO Steve Taylor is moving to a new position in the coming months, a State Department spokesman said.

But sources say Taylor likely will be moving to a new position at the end of June, with Frontis Wiggins, the current principal deputy CIO, likely taking over on an interim basis.

The State spokesman said Taylor will transition to a new assignment in the Foreign Service, as is typical for executives.

The details of Taylor’s new position are not yet confirmed.

In addition to Taylor, Bill Lay, State’s chief information security officer, basically retired on May 27, though he is using annual leave until the end of July when he will “officially” leave government.

Lay has been State’s CISO since September 2012.

No replacement has been named, said the spokesman.

Over the last three years, Lay has been pushing State forward with its cyber efforts by ensuring the right people have the right skillsets to manage the technology, and continuing to implement its continuous monitoring program.

Over at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Hetner has been promoted to be a senior adviser for cybersecurity policy.

Mary Jo White, the SEC chairwoman, announced Hetner’s new role June 2.

The SEC says Hetner will be responsible for coordinating efforts across the agency to address cybersecurity policy, engaging with external stakeholders, and further enhancing the SEC’s mechanisms for assessing broad-based market risk.

“Cyber attacks are a constant threat to our markets,” White said in a statement. “With the cyber field steadily evolving and expanding, it is imperative we continue to enhance our coordinated approach to cybersecurity policy across the SEC and engage at the highest levels with market participants and governmental bodies concerning the latest developments in this area. We are very fortunate that Chris will take on this important role where he will apply his expertise and decades of experience in information security.”

Hetner has been the SEC’s cybersecurity lead for the Technology Control Program within the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) since January 2015. In that position, he coordinated cybersecurity efforts across OCIE and advises on enforcement matters.

The SEC received a positive response from at least one private sector cyber expert for their decision to promote Hetner.

“Investors are increasingly looking at cyber risks to their portfolio companies,” said Jake Olcott, vice president for business development at Bitsight Technologies. “To have someone focused specifically on this issue at the SEC will be extremely helpful for investors and public companies alike. It is critical that the SEC improve the disclosure process from companies to investors — even after the 2011 cyber guidance, both sides still struggle with what to ask for and what to provide.”

A couple of other personnel tidbits that you may have missed. Dan Verton of Meritalk reported Brian Burns is leaving the Veterans Affairs Department after having just decided to give up his chief information security officer role a few weeks prior.

Additionally, Sean Casey is taking over for Jamie Berryhill in the Office of Management and Budget’s E-Government Office. Case will be the chief of policy as Berryhill is moving to Paris to work for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in their Public Sector Innovation division. Federal Computer Week first reported the change.

Casey has been with OMB since September and worked on Capitol Hill for three years prior to coming to the White House.

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