CIO critical to Medicare modernization to retire

Dean Mesterharm, CIO of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will retire at the end of April after having set the agency on a course to IT modernization. Mesterharm has been CIO and director of the Office of Information Services at CMS since May 2005.

He has been integral to the modernization of how CMS provides Medicare, the government's health plan for senior Americans. As CIO, Mesterharm has focused on consolidating and modernizing CMS' data center operations and databases. CMS is an agency of the Health and Human Services Department.

Mesterharm said no decision has been made on who will become CIO when he leaves but a transition strategy is in place. Wallace Fung currently is deputy CIO and chief technology officer.

Mesterharm came to CMS in 2004 on detail from the Social Security Administration, where he was deputy CIO, to become the senior IT technical adviser on implementing the Medicare Modernization Act. He became CIO the following May when then CIO Timothy Love became director of the Office of Research, Development and Information.

Earlier this month, Mesterharm awarded multiple contracts to consolidate CMS operations from 22 data centers to three centers and another one that would transition to provide testing and development.

'This will make a huge difference from the standards, security and operations standpoint,' he said.

CMS last year began to integrate its databases into an enterprise data repository. CMS will complete integrating data from the Medicare drug plan by year end and the databases related to Medicare hospital and physician office claims by 2008, he said. Researchers will be able to better analyze the data for trends in fraud and abuse.

'When we're done, it will be one of the largest databases in the world,' Mesterharm said.

A long-time federal and private-sector IT executive, Mesterharm will retire and move to North Carolina. He received his B.S. from Purdue University of West Lafayette, Ind.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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