Former VA and State official Greg Ambrose dies
- By Sean Lyngaas
- May 03, 2016
Greg Ambrose, who served as a senior IT official at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Veterans Affairs, has died, FCW confirmed.
"It is with great sadness that we learned this morning of the passing of Greg Ambrose," read an email message distributed to staff by the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Ambrose's former employer.
The cause of death could not be definitively confirmed, but in the early hours of May 3, Ambrose posted an apparent farewell message on Facebook. Shortly thereafter, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department confirmed, a suicide occurred in the immediate vicinity of the Arlington, Va., address from which Ambrose had posted.
VA officials did not return requests for comment, and a State Department official said that, "out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Ambrose's family, we have no information to share."
In 11 years of federal service, Ambrose brought a technical eye to some of government's thorniest IT challenges. He held various roles at the Defense Information Systems Agency and other DOD components before moving to DHS in 2011. In 2013, he earned a Federal 100 award for his work as CIO of DHS' Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, whose successor is the Office of Biometric Identity Management.
At the helm of one of the largest biometric databases in the world, Ambrose "changed the culture" of the division running the program "to become more responsible and accountable to business owners and stakeholders within the federal government responsible for identity management," a colleague said at the time.
Ambrose subsequently moved to the State Department, where he was director of consular systems and technology.
In July 2014, he led the department's response to a system-wide data warehouse crash that left the government unable to handle requests for three days. It took officials two weeks to clear the backlog. Ambrose sat for an hour-long interview with FCW after the crash, patiently explaining the technical ins and outs of State's constellation of databases.
In June 2015, Ambrose shifted from State to VA, where we was deputy CIO for product development. He left that post in the fall, after which he worked as a private consultant helping companies navigate the federal IT procurement process. Ambrose told FCW recently that he was enjoying that work, evincing a continued passion for getting IT solutions into the hands of federal employees.
In Facebook postings on May 3, friends and family mourned Ambrose's passing and paid tribute to his character. "Greg, you are someone I look up to, the person who mentored me since I was an intern. You helped me progress my career, you helped me get where I am today," one post said.
"Consular colleagues around the world are saddened by the terrible news," read another post. "We have lost a talented man who will be remembered for his warm smile and commitment to his favorite causes."
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.