Trump picks Marine vet, cyber expert as VA CIO

July 31, 2018

President Donald Trump announced his nomination of James Paul Gfrerer as assistant secretary for information and technology at the VA. It is speculated that Gfrerer will also be chief information officer. If confirmed he would be the first permanent CIO since Laverne Council left early in the Trump administration.

Gfrerer is a cybersecurity executive at Ernst & Young. Trained in computer science and resource strategy, he was a Marine for 20 years, including a stint as the first director of the Marine Corps Information Operations Center which runs psychological warfare training and operations. Before joining Ernst & Young in 2015, for three years he was detailed for three years to the State Department as senior security official with a focus on cyber issues.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has promised to make a priority of filling senior vacancies, which in addition to the CIO include his deputy and leadership of the Veterans Health Administration.

“Mr. Gfrerer will be inheriting a good team in OIT that will need his leadership and direction,” said Scott Blackburn, who was acting CIO until April. “Not only will EHR implementation be a monumental challenge—he has a lot of other IT issues that will need his attention and leadership.”

Meanwhile, HisTalk notes that the DoD’s legal justification for the $1.1 billion addition to the $4.3 billion Leidos-Cerner contract states that it had to extend Leidos’ work order to include EHR standardization since the VA had hired Cerner as its prime contractor.

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