Veterans Affairs

VA shakes up infosec ranks

 

The senior IT ranks at the Department of Veterans Affairs is getting refreshed after the exit of CIO LaVerne Council, a political appointee. Her temporary replacement Rob Thomas, formerly a senior deputy CIO, announced the moves in an email to staff in the early evening of Feb. 1.

Dominic Cussatt will become acting chief information security officer. He's helped lead the VA Enterprise Cybersecurity Strategy. Before joining VA, he served at the Department of Defense as a cybersecurity policy lead and held the post of deputy CISO.

Roopangi Kadakia, who was VA's CISO until the move, will shift to help lead the agency's ongoing cloud transformation as an expert in the Enterprise Program Management Office. In a previous role at NASA, Kadakia helped direct the move of 160 systems to the cloud. Thomas said she is, "uniquely qualified to lead cloud implementation and help [the Office of Information and Technology] modernize and drive improved outcomes."

"These leadership changes set OI&T up for success in modernizing our systems and eliminating our material weaknesses," Thomas said.

VA has longstanding information security issues, which past leadership had pledged to remediate. At a March 2016 hearing, an official from VA's Office of Inspector General testified that 57 of 69 information security recommendations made to the VA are still open, and of those, 17 were repeat recommendations and 13 were modified repeat recommendations.

FCW's emails to OI&T and the Office Inspector General about the status of the expected FY2016 information security report were not immediately answered.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Thu, Feb 23, 2017

What VA needs in IT is a CIO that has a background as a CISO. Or even better, create a CSO position that is equal to the CIO and establishes and enforces all security policies and procedures (information, physical, personnel, etc.).

Tue, Feb 7, 2017

Yes, that's it, mix things up again... Walking in circles is at walking. Like all of IT, people are just being moved around in hopes of fooling people into thinking we're making progress.

Thu, Feb 2, 2017

Shuffling the deck with revolving InfoSec leaders at the VA won't help. The day that VA clears the material weakness will be about the time that Baron Trump gets elected to the position his dad now has.

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