David Vargas has been acting as CIO of the Office of Personnel Management, acting OPM Director Beth Cobert said Monday.
Testifying before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on the agency’s fiscal year 2017 budget request, Cobert said Vargas has been leading OPM’s IT operations as the agency looks to replace former CIO Donna Seymour. Seymour retired suddenly last month amid the fallout of last year’s discovery that federal personnel and security clearance records for 22 million individuals had been compromised.
Vargas, a senior executive service member, and OPM’s associate CIO, has spent most of his career in the federal government, serving for more than 20 years in senior-level positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining OPM in 2013 as director of human resources IT transformation. He was named associate CIO in 2014.
Cobert told the subcommittee Vargas has been very involved with the agency’s ongoing IT modernization plan, a topic of great discussion during the hearing because of the increased funding request, up from $21 million for fiscal year 2016 to $37 million in this latest budget plan.
As she looks to fill Seymour’s position on a permanent basis, Cobert said she’s seeking “someone who’s a disciplined leader of getting things done.”
“We need a strong and proven leader who understands both cybersecurity and modernizing IT systems,” she said. Cobert added, “We also need an individual who is very effective at building networks and collaborating across the government,” skills that she said will be especially important as OPM works with the Department of Homeland Security to improve its cybersecurity and the Defense Department to stand up the National Background Investigations Bureau, which will replace the Federal Investigative Services at OPM.
“We know we will need that with our work with [the Defense Department] on NBIB; we’re going to continue to need that in our work with DHS on improving our cybersecurity,” she said.
In the meantime, Cobert said there’s a “terrific team” with four new SES members leading the CIO’s office and OPM’s ongoing modernization efforts.
“We have a strong team,” she said. “They built a plan they’re working together on, and I know they will continue to carry forward in a very thoughtful way while we are filling this position. But I also think we can bring in a terrific person that will continue to help them and build on this success.”
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