VA names supervisor for CIO's office

Veterans Affairs Department secretary James Nicholson named Robert Howard as supervisor of the Office of Information and Technology, effective today.

Nicholson selected Howard for the role until an acting CIO and acting assistant secretary for the Office of Information Technology can be chosen. White House approval is needed for the acting position.

Howard has been senior adviser to VA deputy secretary Gordon Mansfield since May 2005.

Former CIO Robert McFarland, a retired Dell Computer Corp. executive, announced his resignation last month, after serving as CIO and assistant secretary for information and technology since January 2004. His last day was Friday.

Howard 'will provide leadership for the Office of Information and Technology and supervise and manage all operations and personnel of that office to ensure that its mission is fulfilled,' Nicholson said in a memo dated Friday.

Prior to joining VA, Howard served in several senior leadership positions in the private sector and as deputy assistant secretary of the Army. A Vietnam War veteran, Howard served 33 years on active duty and achieved the rank of major general of the Army.

Last week, VA selected Pedro Cadenas Jr. to be acting deputy CIO and acting deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Information Technology. In addition, Cadenas will continue his current position as associate deputy assistant secretary for cyber and information security and chief information security officer.

The reorganization of VA's IT budget, operations and management under the department CIO had 'produced a contentious atmosphere at the executive level, and my continued presence in it would be detrimental to the department's implementation of it,' McFarland said.

McFarland outlined the realignment of affected IT employees and an interim restructuring of the Office of the CIO before he left. VA is completing the detailing of IT employees from the benefits, health care and burial administrations to the department's Office of Information and Technology. The reorganization ultimately will affect up to 5,000 employees.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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