Headshot of person/agency from Department of Veterans Affairs

James Gfrerer

CIO, Department of Veterans Affairs

Golden Gov: Executive of the Year

Department of Veterans Affairs CIO James Gfrerer likes to call the COVID-19 pandemic a “black swan” event in that it’s once-in-a-lifetime. “The notion of a black swan is … nothing in the sum total of your knowledge or your experience in your life has really prepared you to address this,” Gfrerer told FedScoop. “You have to think very critically, very differently, and so we’ve all had to bring that mindset to the effort.” Despite this challenge, Gfrerer led his team to quickly shift to enable transformation and change. One of the largest federal agencies, the VA maneuvered gracefully to telework — and now, “we’re not going back,” Gfrerer said. “I think the nature of the pandemic and the nature of work and the nature of technology and what it enables, people are realizing now, both commercial, federal sector and otherwise, given the need to protect the workforce and our population, given the need to continue the mission, it’s a different business model.”

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