VA’s head of modernization departing after three years in post

Surafeal Asgedom speaks March 11, 2020, at the IT Modernization Summit presented by FedScoop. (Scoop News Group)

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The head of modernization in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Surafeal Asgedom, is departing the post after three years of working to improve collaboration and innovation within the department.

Asgedom had the task of optimizing services the VA offers to millions of military veterans. His job description in the Office of Enterprise Integration had a long list of challenging objectives, including “streamlining” and “integrating” disparate initiatives, promoting cross-agency work and “rapidly executing” leadership priorities. In a farewell note obtained by FedScoop he said his time at the department was “a chance of a lifetime.”

“It is an opportunity that I will hold with genuine gratitude for the rest of my life,” he wrote. “VA’s noble mission of serving our heroes is unmatched.”

In an email to FedScoop, he said his crowning achievement was improving collaboration within the VA on modernization efforts. Increased transparency in those partnerships was one of the critical parts to his successes, he said. He didn’t point to a specific collaboration, instead referring to broader management-style changes in VA.

“I am very proud to say I helped create an integrated change management ecosystem — a system designed to deliver a stronger future for our Veterans,” he wrote to FedScoop.

At the recent 2020 FedScoop IT Modernization Summit, Asgedom said his office was working to modernize services to meet the changing needs of younger veterans who are more accustomed to tech-based services. Finding better ways to integrate with mobile applications and commercial-off-the-shelf technology were among his priorities, he said.

“Our demographics have changed, as well as expectations,” Asgedom said during the March 12 summit. He later added that “our approach is really commercial off-the-shelf for all of our products.”

Asgedom came to the VA from leadership positions in the health care industry in New York. His last day at the VA will be April 24, according to his email to staff. He told FedScoop he intends to take some time off before venturing back into the private sector.

“I leave my position with great respect for government workers, especially leaders like yourself that are so obviously committed to VA’s noble mission.”

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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), IT Modernization, Surafeal Asgedom
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