Commerce, GSA looking for new chief data officers

Usually when we talk people on the move, it’s chief information officers or others in similar roles.

But in the recent months we’ve seen a couple of chief data officers taking their skills to the private sector or nonprofit world. Because as we all know now, it’s all about the data.

Ed Kearns, the Commerce Department chief data officer, is joining a nonprofit in April after 15 years in government.

Ed Kearns is leaving as the Commerce Department’s chief data officer.

Kris Rowley, the CDO at the General Services Administration, beat Kearns out the door, leaving in  March after 18 years in government.

Rowley joined the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) as its CDO.

Kearns posted a note on LinkedIn said he will be CDO at the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the effective communication of climate risk to the public.

“Thank you to all my colleagues and partners that have made those years so rewarding, Kearns wrote in his note.

He has been Commerce CDO since July and before that held a similar role with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Kearns was on detail from NOAA as the Commerce CDO. In that role, he led the implementation of the Federal Data Strategy and the Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act across Commerce.

At NOAA, Kearns oversaw the bureau’s project to enable wider use of its data by the private sector, non-profits and academia sectors.

He also served as a federal data fellow under the White House’s Federal Data Strategy effort where he lead the commercialization, innovation and public use working group to define practices and actions for all agencies to apply to federal data assets.

Kris Rowley, formerly the chief data officer at the General Services Administration, left in March after 18 years in government.

Before coming to Commerce, Kearns served as the NASA program examiner at the Office of Management and Budget and was an oceanographer at the National Park Service.

Rowley spent seven years at GSA, serving as one of the first people with the title of CDO in government starting in 2015.

During his tenure as GSA’s CDO, Rowley set the strategic vision for data management and built a data governance framework. He also established data standards, and made more use of cloud storage and business intelligence and analytics.

He also worked in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy, where he stood up a performance management line of business and developed an application to standardize and collect performance management data.

Before coming to GSA, Rowley spent a year on detail to OMB as a project manager and worked for the Treasury Department, including the IRS, for 10 years.

Two other federal technology personnel changes that came across the transom.

Lee Becker, the former Veterans Affairs Department’s chief of staff for the Veterans Experience Office, joined Medallia as a solutions principal. Medallia is focuses on experience management through cloud tools to help businesses understand and manage customer and employee services.

Rob Leahy recently left the IRS to become the CIO at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Becker spent 10 years at VA, including the last three-and-a-half helping to lead the customer experience office.

In that role, Becker worked to implement and realign VA’s customer experience efforts. He helped bring in concepts like human centered design, user and digital experience and data science mechanisms from the voice of the customer to modernize and improve the experience for over 50 million veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors.

Unlike the other three executives, Rob Leahy is remaining in government, but moved to a new job. Leahy is the new CIO at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, coming over from the IRS.

Leahy served as the deputy CIO for operations at IRS for the last 17 months before moving to NASA Goddard in February.

He replaced Dennis VanderTuig, who left in late 2019 and had been CIO since 2014.

Leahy also served as the deputy CIO at the Office of Personnel Management and spent 11 years before that also at the IRS.