Social Security Administration CIO to resign

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the memo by Commissioner Mike Astrue was first published by Social Security News on July 16.

Frank Baitman will leave his position as CIO of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in August, according to an internal memo from July 15.

Kelly Croft, deputy commissioner for systems at the agency, will assume the CIO responsibility, Commissioner Mike Astrue wrote in an internal memo, as was reported by Federal News Radio. The memo was published first on July 16 by the Social Security News blog.

An SSA official confirmed Baitman's departure, which will be Aug. 19. The official also confirmed that Pete Spencer, regional commissioner of the San Francisco Region, will retire Sept. 2.

Baitman’s departure coincides with recent shifts that would decentralize his office, coupled with an extremely tough situation, according to one expert.

The changes include reducing the size of the CIO’s staff, Astrue wrote in a separate memo, which was published online June 27 by the “Social Security News” blog.

SSA’s Innovation and Investment Management offices, currently part of the CIO’s office, will move to the Office of Systems, along with corresponding employees. The systems office will also take on responsibility for health IT initiatives. The changes come as the administration has less money to work with.

Read more about the reshuffling of the administration’s IT offices.

Phil Kiviat, a partner at the Guerra-Kiviat consulting firm, said the SSA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are under a lot of pressure to do their work despite a growing workload and less money. The SSA has the Baby Boom generation soon wanting benefits, as well as the complexities of IT operations, including a leap to cloud computing.

"That's a challenging situation," Kiviat said, further describing it as a losing game.

With the Congress cutting funding, these agencies will struggle to meet their demands on performance, as they won't get funding for new systems to handle the increasing workload.

Budge cuts at this time, "don't reflect an environment that is conducive to reality," he said. Instead, as Washington has operated for years, government leaders cut funding when agencies need the upfront money to prepare for what's ahead.

Read more about budget problems at the SSA.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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