DHS, GPO get ‘new’ IT executives; VA losing long-time acquisition leader

Barry West came back to government after the election to provide some experience and insights to the Homeland Security Department’s then-new chief information officer.

West is staying a big longer now.

DHS acting CIO Stephen Rice announced to staff on Oct. 4 that West will be continuing on as senior adviser under a limited-term Senior Executive Service appointment and is the new acting deputy CIO.

West’s limited-term appointment starts Oct. 15, Rice wrote in the email obtained by Federal News Radio.

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A limited-term SES appointment can last up to three years, is nonrenewable and must be to an SES General position, which will expire because of the nature of the work, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

In his email, Rice didn’t say how long West’s appointment would last.

West initially came to DHS to support former CIO Richard Starapoli, who resigned in August after only four months on the job.

The decision to extend West’s time at DHS isn’t surprising. West is replacing Rice on an interim basis. Since coming to headquarters from the Transportation Security Administration in June, Rice had been acting deputy CIO.

This will be West’s sixth agency where he is serving as an IT executive. Previously, he was CIO at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Department of Commerce, FEMA and the National Weather Service.

Additionally, he was the president of the Mason Harriman Group, a management consulting company.

Along with DHS, the Government Publishing Office is staying with a familiar face for its CIO.

Tracee Boxley is now the permanent CIO after taking over as acting since November. GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks made the announcement in a release on Oct. 5.

“Tracee has provided great leadership and a steady hand to our IT department during the last 11 months and I am proud to name her our new CIO,” Vance-Cooks said. “Tracee’s IT background and knowledge of GPO will provide leadership to this critical position, as the agency continues to meet the ever-changing technology requirements of Congress, federal agencies and the public.”

Boxley has been with GPO since 2006 and was promoted to deputy CIO in 2012.

Before coming to GPO, Boxley was chief of the American Housing Survey Division at the Census Bureau, and deputy CIO and chief of the Technical Services Division at the Food Nutrition Service (FNS).

Another federal IT executive changed jobs earlier this year, and it may not have made it on many people’s radar. In fact, another federal CIO just found out about it recently so I figured it’s a good time to catch up.

Jack Wilmer, the former vice director for the Defense Information Systems Agency’s development and business center, joined the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on detail back in April.

Wilmer is working on cybersecurity and IT modernization efforts. Wilmer’s detail is for one year with potential to extend it another year.

He joined DISA in 2010 from the private sector where he worked on a variety of network and enterprise services.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a new director. The Senate confirmed Dr. Walter Copan on Oct. 5.

Copan, who also holds the title of undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, comes to NIST after serving in the academic, non-profit and private sectors during his career.

Most recently, Copan was the president and CEO of the IP Engineering Group Corporation, which provides services in intellectual property strategy, technology commercialization and innovation. Until June 2017, he was founding CEO and chairman of Impact Engineered Wood Corp., an advanced materials technology company.

Copan earned dual B.S./B.A. degrees in chemistry and music from Case Western Reserve University, and then went on to get his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Case Western.

VA’s Giddens to retire

It’s not all promotions and job changes. Two agencies are looking for new executives.

Greg Giddens, the Veterans Affairs Department’s acting director of the Office of Enterprise Integration, is retiring at the end of November.

In an email to staff obtained by Federal News Radio, Giddens said he announced his decision a little earlier than normal in order to give VA time to begin the process to fill his former role as principle executive director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction. Giddens has been on detail to the OEI since April where he had helped lead VA’s modernization and reform efforts.

“Between now and the end of November, I will ‘run through the tape.’ I look forward to continuing working together with you as we continue to improve the veteran experience, improve the employee experience, and improve our stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Giddens wrote.

Giddens told my colleague Nicole Ogrysko in September that he led the effort to survey thousands of VA employees over the last few months. One major theme centered on the role of VA headquarters and how it makes decisions that impact VA medical facilities, cemeteries and benefits offices in the field.

Giddens is leaving federal service after 37 years when he started as an engineering student while finishing his engineering degree from Georgia Tech.

During his career, Giddens worked at a host of agencies including the departments of Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security.

“I could not think of any better jobs than working in OALC and the modernization office to be my last two points of federal service,” he wrote.

Giddens came to VA in 2010 and was named the principle executive director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction in 2015.

During his tenure, Giddens aimed to improve and modernize VA’s acquisition efforts, which had come under intense scrutiny for construction failures.

Along with VA, the U.S. Mint is searching for a new chief information officer.

The Mint posted a job description on the USAJobs.gov website on Oct. 5.

Lauren Buschor has been the CIO at the Mint since 2014.

An email and phone call to the Mint asking details were not returned, and a LinkedIn message and an email to Buschor were not returned either.

DeAnna Wynn is the deputy CIO for the Mint and served as acting CIO from July to November 2013.