Management

Education CIO retires weeks after Capitol Hill confrontation

Education Department CIO Danny Harris testifying on Feb. 2, 2016

Education Department CIO Danny Harris testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Feb. 2. (Photo: Zach Noble, FCW)

A few weeks after a tense and confrontational Capitol Hill interrogation and ensuing hospitalization, long-serving Education Department CIO Danny Harris has decided to retire.

Harris' retirement will be effective Feb. 29. According to department spokesperson Dorie Nolt, Harris "did not want to risk becoming a distraction to the department's critical ongoing cybersecurity work." The statement noted that the department had made "significant progress in recent months" toward achieving its cybersecurity goals.

The retirement comes after a Feb. 2 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in which lawmakers examined Harris' undeclared income from outside activities and his allegedly inappropriate relationships with employees and contractors. All of the issues had been examined and cleared by internal Education investigators years prior, but some lawmakers connected the pattern of behavior to Education's failing IT grades, according to its own scorecard on implementing new IT law.

"Mr. Harris has been the CIO [at Education] since 2008," Chaffetz said at the hearing. "By virtually every metric, he is failing to adequately secure the department's systems."

Harris collapsed after the hearing and was briefly hospitalized.

The Department of Education "will move quickly to select a new CIO," Nolt said in her statement.

Deputy CIO Steve Grewal will take over as acting CIO. Grewal previously served as the department's Chief Information Security Officer, and has held other senior technical posts at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation. The press statement also notes that the Education Department's Assistant Secretary for Management, Andrew Jackson, has a background in public- and private-sector IT management.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.


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