Trump to appoint financial services veteran to Federal CIO role

More than year into the Trump administration, a federal chief information officer has finally arrived.

President Donald Trump today announced his intent to appoint Suzette Kent to be the administrator of the Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget. While the President didn’t call out the title federal CIO, for all intents and purposes, that is the role Kent would fill.

“Ms. Kent is an industry leader of large-scale business transformation using technology, for the world’s most complex organizations,” the White House said in its announcement. “Although technology change has been at the core of her professional career, retooling the workforce and creating new opportunities for people has been an essential element of efforts that she has led.   She has served as an enterprise leader for organizational learning, diversity and inclusiveness, and career development at every organization in which she has worked.”

Suzette Kent will be the administrator of the Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget and Federal CIO.

Kent will come to OMB from Ernst & Young where she has been a principal in the financial services office for the last two-plus years. She also has worked for JP Morgan Chase and Accenture in the financial services sector.

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She replaces Tony Scott, who served as Federal CIO for the final two years of the Obama administration. Margie Graves, the federal deputy CIO, has been the acting CIO since Scott left in January 2017.

Kent received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing from Louisiana State University in 1990.

“Congratulations to Suzette Kent on her nomination as the new Federal CIO! In this role she will lead the Federal CIO Council and shape the IT policies for federal agencies,” Rob Joyce, the White House’ s cyber coordinator tweeted on Friday.

As the Federal CIO, Kent’s plate will be full from the start. The Trump administration issued an IT modernization strategy that focuses on customer service and cybersecurity.

Agencies also are awaiting implementation guidance around the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which creates working capital funds in each agency to accumulate savings from moving off legacy IT.

OMB has been meeting with federal CIOs and their staff to discuss setting up the working capital funds over the last month.

Barry West, the senior advisor for IT at the Homeland Security Department, said yesterday at the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center CISO event that OMB is focused on how agencies can get cost savings to transform their operations.

Additionally, Kent will have to address the ongoing workforce challenges, particularly around cybersecurity. The Office of Personnel Management granted agencies direct hire authority for cyber and other IT modernization positions late last year.

Kent’s appointment comes as OMB’s Deputy Director for Management nominee Margaret Weichert made it through the first step of the confirmation process easily. Kent and Weichert overlapped at Ernst & Young for two years.