State Department Gets a New CIO and CDO, with Enterprise CISO Still TBD

Published: January 28, 2021

Federal Market AnalysisAdministration TransitionBig DataCybersecurityInformation TechnologySTATE

The CIO, CDO and CISO roles will build on efforts to offer greater security, mobility and data-empowered foreign policy decision-making capabilities.

The U.S. Department of State is the first of the seven federal departments and agencies that have politically appointed CIOs to name a permanent one in the new Biden Administration.

FedScoop reported earlier this month that Keith Jones has been appointed the new Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the State Department, noting Jones’ federal IT background as Deputy CIO for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Jones will fill the position vacated by his predecessor, Stuart McGuigan, who served in the position since 2018. McGuigan most recently focused on supporting the department’s move to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also oversaw other IT modernization efforts and a shift to a more centralized technology infrastructure during his two-year tenure. In an interview with Federal News Network, McGuigan highlighted rolling out centralized enterprise capabilities such as identity management and Office 365, as well as advancing cloud services by streamlining the authority to operate (ATO) process to increase access and availability and make the department more agile, which paid off during the telework pivot. McGuigan also noted that the agency has embraced an agile approach to software development to bring new capabilities to users more quickly and securely. McGuigan said he hopes those technology foundations will help the new leadership team to successfully grow the department’s collaboration and mobile capabilities so that diplomats and others can increasingly and securely access the information and data resources they need on their preferred devices from wherever they are.

Speaking of leveraging data resources, just weeks before Jones’ appointment to CIO, the State Department hired its first permanent Chief Data Officer (CDO). Nextgov reported that State had hired Matthew Graviss, a Ph.D. systems engineer who has held multiple senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) roles, including USCIS’s first CDO. The State CDO position had been held in an acting role by State’s Office of Management Strategy and Solutions director Janice deGarmo, who simultaneously filled in as acting CDO since summer 2019 soon after the position was federally mandated by Congress. Their collective vision is to further arm State Department employees with new tools to fully harness the department’s vast repositories of data to “really strengthen and accelerate foreign policy decisions,” says Graviss.

Undergirding the success of these growing capabilities will be the department’s enterprise cybersecurity practices and infrastructure. State’s cybersecurity capabilities have continued to evolve and mature over the last several years. To take those efforts forward State created an Enterprise Chief Information Security Officer (E-CIO) position in December with broad authorities to synchronize and coordinate cybersecurity across the department. The new E-CIO position will report to the CIO, so Jones will select who fills the position in the coming weeks.

These and other multi-year efforts and themes around increasing secure, mobile capabilities for U.S. diplomats and other foreign policy officials at home and abroad are driven both by technology evolution and the need for rapid decision-making empowered by the most up-to-date information and data. They are also driven by cybersecurity challenges that have raised the scrutiny of Congress and federal watchdogs alike. Much progress has been made and more can be made with determined leadership and collaboration with supportive partners.