Finding a new HHS CIO means navigating tricky waters

When the U.S. Section of Wellbeing and Human Companies begins searching for a new CIO, the method promises to be a tricky and unique a single, in accordance to Steve Nilsen, co-founder and standard manager of C-suite government search firm CastLight Look for.

Last month, HHS CIO Jose Arrieta abruptly resigned from the place he’d held for sixteen months and from his more than fifteen decades in federal provider. He was the next technological innovation officer to depart HHS due to the fact July. HHS named principal deputy CIO Perryn Ashmore as performing CIO and has not announced no matter if it has started a official search method.

Finding Arrieta’s alternative will be a tough journey for HHS, Nilsen said. The division will have to navigate what has turn out to be a very politicized place as tension amongst HHS and the Centers for Condition Command and Avoidance grew in excess of the reporting of COVID-19 facts. In July, healthcare facility-claimed facts turned available on the HHS Protect facts system, changing a CDC system. Arrieta was at the rear of the start of HHS Protect, a protected system for accumulating and analyzing COVID-19 facts.

In this Q&A, Nilsen talks about the legacy Arrieta leaves at the rear of. He also describes what HHS could be searching for in a new CIO, which not only contains a robust record of expertise, but also the capacity to be both equally politically savvy and apolitical at the similar time.

Jose Arrieta was in the role of HHS CIO for a little more than a year. What was he ready to attain in that time?

Steve NilsenSteve Nilsen

Steve Nilsen: I feel Arrieta did a phenomenal career. It is the most important CIO career in the land, and he is a job-lengthy community servant. He arrives from a procurement, offer chain qualifications and, originally, did not glimpse like the man that would be the most dynamic and break new floor. But he showed that you can go fast and you can get issues accomplished inside of the division. He experienced some large achievements in the short time he was there in conditions of utilizing blockchain in the procurement method, the HHS Protect system that he stood up very rapidly.

Thanks to the pandemic, a ton of choosing is using location pretty much. Would that impression HHS’ CIO search?

Nilsen: It can be accomplished. I have positioned company leaders for the duration of this COVID time without any bodily face-to-face interaction. So it truly is possible. Now, the federal authorities is possibly a little little bit more resistant to building a go like that. [The HHS CIO place] is a very significant stage, so it would be a further impediment to offer with, but it is possible. It’s getting accomplished every day across the search business for positive. We’ve all long gone digital.

What experience would HHS be searching for in its following CIO?

Nilsen: The obstacle below is, of class, that so much [of the role] has been politicized. So, you happen to be searching for anyone with political savvy for the reason that this is a political career no matter if you like it or not. …. [Yet,] I feel at this point, as astonishing as this may perhaps sound, [it truly is] anyone who also has the capacity to get the job done across the aisle, anyone who’s not seen as a political appointee. Skillset is priority No. 1, but next is getting apolitical. I feel that is significant for continuity. Nevertheless the elections go, whoever arrives in wants to continue to be onboard.

In conditions of qualifications, Arrieta showed that robust emphasis on procurement and offer chain can help you save a ton of revenue and raise efficiency. You really don’t necessarily need to have to have been a CIO for that — Arrieta experienced not held the title [formerly], but he has accomplished the career. I also feel anyone who is robust in AI, a person who can continue on the blockchain advancement and anyone who understands cloud and safety will be [provided] significant priority likely ahead. … The way the role is composed, it truly is very operational, it truly is not very strategic. But I feel Arrieta took that operational role and turned it into some thing strategic, which is seriously an accomplishment. A diversity candidate would also be impressive. I feel it should really be a priority and there is large talent out there, so I hope the search takes that into account.

What should really candidates be wondering about if they’re taking into consideration using on some thing like the HHS CIO role?

Nilsen: As I inform all my C-stage candidates, thanks diligence goes both equally approaches. You really don’t want to get a place just for the reason that it truly is an fascinating and significant role you want to get it for the reason that you feel you can be thriving. That thanks diligence wants to materialize, primarily in this circumstance, provided that it truly is a federal authorities role, it has been somewhat politicized, it truly is an election year and we have a pandemic likely on. You will find a ton more than getting the world’s most effective CIO that you need to have to think about likely into this role and no matter if you happen to be the appropriate person to succeed in the role.

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.