2017 Rising Star Awards
Ruchika C. Croall
Director, Enterprise Program Management Office, Information Assurance, Department of Veterans Affairs
- By Derek B. Johnson
- Oct 11, 2017
Using technology to help improve the lives of veterans is personal for Ruchika Croall. A former Army logistics officer, the 37-year-old now spends her days as acting director of the Enterprise Program Management Office, Information Assurance, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she works to keep IT systems and data safe.
“When I help another veteran, I’m helping myself,” Croall said.
VA officials credit her with helping the department move from a waterfall-like iterative project management style to an agile process with three-month IT sprints and builds. She also provides IT project management training to over 400 agency employees and contractors every week.
When officials needed someone to launch a new information assurance office, they naturally turned to Croall. As part of that effort, she reviewed the authorities to operate for more than 175 software systems at the VA — and she did it in three months.
Bill James, deputy assistant secretary at VA’s Enterprise Program Management Office, said Croall’s work building and maturing the department’s information assurance initiatives has had as much of an impact as her work on transitioning IT operations to an agile process, if not more so.
Authorities to operate “are by their very nature hard,” he added. “There’s a lot of detail, a lot of guidelines, and Ruchika’s insights into the complexity of the system really came through.”
Croall said creating a new office in an organization as large and complex as VA comes with its own unique set of challenges. Chief among them is finding a way to improve existing business processes to add value but not red tape. It also comes with unique benefits.
“To me, it’s fun standing up a new office because I get to set the standard, and then everyone can be measured against my standard instead of me being measured against theirs,” she said.
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Note: This article was updated on Oct. 13 to correct Croall's title.
Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.