Intelligence

CIA appoints new CIO

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John G. Edwards, an IT professional with a mix of government and private-sector experience, has succeeded Doug Wolfe as the CIA's CIO, an agency spokesman confirmed.

The personnel change happened quietly in February. Wolfe, a CIA veteran with more than 30 years of agency experience, had been CIO since October 2013. He helped steer the intelligence community toward greater adoption of cloud computing. The $600-million, CIA-run cloud that Amazon Web Services built for all 17 agencies in the IC came online during his watch.

Edwards has some 20 years experience in the intelligence community, including nearly 15 "overseeing technical operations and engineering support" at CIA, according to a corporate biography. He has also worked as a consultant for Accenture and as an executive at Agilex Technologies Inc., an IT firm that Accenture Federal Services acquired last year. Edwards could not be reached for comment.

"I think this is a big win for CIA to get John to agree to come back in" to the agency and take a pay cut from his private-sector work, said David Shedd, former acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Shedd said he has known Edwards for years and praised his technical acumen.

"I'd like to see him stay on and really see ICITE through," Shedd told FCW, referring to the intelligence community's cloud-based push for a common IT architecture.

Edwards' biggest challenge as the CIA's top IT official will be the full embrace of ICITE, particularly encouraging data sharing at a time when there is residual resistance to doing so, added Shedd.

In a 2009 interview with ExecutiveBiz, Edwards reflected on the challenge of sharing information securely within the intelligence community. "[T]hreat information has got to be pushed out to federal, state, and local levels," Edwards told the outlet. "This increased access and connectivity introduces whole new layers of security and risk, but the bottom line is you have to get critical information out to the folks on the front line at the 'speed of warning'."

CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said Wolfe had taken up another senior position within the agency, declining to specify Wolfe's new role. Wolfe did a stint at the CIA's Science and Technology Directorate earlier in his career, where he was program manager and also deputy director, according to a biography.

Wolfe's tenure as CIO will be remembered for his evangelizing for cloud computing in the IC. Cloud computing will change the role of intelligence analysts, Wolfe said in an October 2014 interview with GCN, a sister publication of FCW.

"One of my really great hopes is that we set up an environment for innovation so we'll be able to explore what can be automated, what can be done with machine-to-machine interactions and where humans need to be involved and can add value," Wolfe said shortly after the AWS cloud went online.

The CIA last fall formally unveiled a new cyber-focused directorate, the Directorate for Digital Innovation. The organizational shakeup saw the CIO's management of enterprise IT placed within the new directorate, alongside an open source center and a hub for cyber threat operations. Sean Roche, the DDI's deputy, called Wolfe the Elon Musk of the CIA for Wolfe's handling of technological challenges.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a former FCW staff writer.

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