Obama taps VMware’s Tony Scott as federal CIO

Tony Scott, who Obama plans to appoint to be the federal CIO, has worked as the chief of the VMware's global information technology group since 2013. (VMware)

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President Barack Obama announced plans to appoint VMware’s Tony Scott as the federal chief information officer.

If the appointment goes through, Scott would be the third federal CIO to serve during the Obama administration. He would take the place of Steven VanRoekel, who left the job to work as the chief innovation officer at U.S. Agency for International Development, helping coordinate efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak. Scott and VanRoekel both happen to be former Microsoft senior executives. Scott would not need to be approved by Congress.

Currently, Lisa Schlosser serves as the acting federal CIO since VanRoekel departed last Septmeber.

An executive who knows Scott and worked with him closely called him “extremely personable” and focused on customers. The executive spoke to FedScoop on background because they were not authorized to comment publicly. “He was always able to relate to customers with use case examples, not simply in some esoteric manner,” the executive said. Still, the executive said it was a surprise that he would accept the CIO position so late in the Obama administration.

“We relied on him and used him as an asset all the time. But with all of the committee chairmen coming in in Congress, it will be eight months before anybody listens to him,” the executive said.

In the OMBlog, Shaun Donovan, director at the Office of Management and Budget, and Beth Cobert, OMB’s deputy director for management, said Scott brings 35 years of global leadership and management experience to his position.

“Tony is the right person to drive the Administration’s Smarter IT Delivery Agenda and the core objectives across the Federal IT portfolio – (1) driving value in Federal IT investments, (2) delivering world-class digital services, and (3) protecting Federal IT assets and information,” they wrote.

When it comes to innovation, the government has a reputation for being slow moving. But, in a recent interview with Computer Weekly, Scott emphasized the importance of agility and the role experimentation plays in the ability to move fast.

“Rather than run a monolithic application, you have a petri dish to make your business better. You can try something, experiment and quickly scale out or fail fast,” he adds.

Scott has served as the chief of the VMware’s global information technology group since 2013, according to a release from the White House. From 2008 to 2013, he also worked as chief information officer at Microsoft Corp. He’s also served as CIO of The Walt Disney Co. and of Information Systems & Services at General Motors Co. Scott received a bachelor’s from the University of San Francisco and a law degree from Santa Clara University.

Dan Verton, Billy Mitchell and Greg Otto contributed to this report.

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Agencies, Government IT News, Management & Budget, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), White House
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