Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Stephen Warren

Stephen Warren, deputy CIO at VA, is heading to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Stephen Warren, the career senior executive who led IT at the Department of Veterans Affairs over a rocky two-year period, will leave VA on Aug. 28 to take the CIO post at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Warren's exit comes on the heels of LaVerne Council, a former top private sector CIO, taking the reins at the Office of Information and Technology at VA. Warren, as deputy CIO, ran the $4 billion IT department for almost two-and-a-half years on an acting basis.

Council recently announced the formation of a team to craft a cybersecurity strategy for VA, to be headed by Susan McHugh-Polley, a VA senior executive. Warren had been closely identified with VA's cybersecurity efforts, and briefed reporters monthly on the threats identified and thwarted by the use of the Einstein 3 network defense provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

"Stephen's leadership helped lay the foundation for the organization that we will continue to improve upon and bring to greatness," Council said in an email to VA staffers obtained by FCW.

Warren recounted his tenure in an email to FCW.

"Building one of the largest consolidated IT organizations; developing and deploying the new GI Bill system that today processes original enrollment requests with no required human interaction; moving the benefits determination process from a completely paper-based process to one that is now almost completely in digits; and a dramatic increase in the volume and type of information that we share with [the Department of Defense] to make sure veterans are receiving the care that they desire," Warren said in the Aug. 6 email.

Warren, an Air Force veteran, has been with VA for more than seven years. He told FCW that the death of his brother in Iraq led him to the department. He became acting CIO at VA after the departure of Roger Baker in March 2013.

Warren's time at VA was marked by run-ins with Congress and criticism over IT security. For more than four years, information security has been tabbed a material weakness by the VA's Office of Inspector General. In June 2013, only a few months after Warren took over as acting CIO, it was disclosed by former VA Chief Information Security Officer Jerry Davis that VA networks had been penetrated by nation-state sponsored cyberattackers, putting at risk personal data on 20 million veterans.

More recently, Warren has had to respond to the scheduling scandal at VA hospitals in which staffers used workarounds in the computer scheduling system to meet performance quotas. He put in place a plan in June 2014 to acquire a commercial, off-the-shelf scheduling system to replace the existing software.

Warren appears to be going out with some successes. In the area of cybersecurity, the deployment of the Einstein system has thwarted tens of millions of penetration attempts, and after years of wrangling, the VA has reported 100 percent success in encrypting laptops and desktops connected to the VA network.

"Even with these successes there are areas where we need to continue to up our game. Technology continues to change, services to veterans continue to increase and improve, the threat to our data never diminishes," Warren told FCW.

Warren starts work at the OCC on Sept. 6, where he will lead a department responsible for a $106 million IT budget, per the federal IT Dashboard. The CIO post there has been vacant since March 20, 2015. The previous CIO, Edward Dorris, now leads IT at the National Credit Union Administration. 

A replacement for Warren as deputy CIO at VA has not been announced.

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