Finding a new HHS CIO means navigating tricky waters

When the U.S. Section of Wellness and Human Providers commences looking for a new CIO, the procedure promises to be a tricky and distinct just one, in accordance to Steve Nilsen, co-founder and typical manager of C-suite executive lookup agency CastLight Research.

Previous thirty day period, HHS CIO Jose Arrieta abruptly resigned from the situation he’d held for 16 months and from his extra than 15 many years in federal provider. He was the next technological know-how officer to go away HHS since July. HHS named principal deputy CIO Perryn Ashmore as performing CIO and has not announced regardless of whether it has started a formal lookup procedure.

Discovering Arrieta’s replacement will be a difficult journey for HHS, Nilsen stated. The division will have to navigate what has turn out to be a really politicized situation as tension between HHS and the Centers for Ailment Handle and Avoidance grew over the reporting of COVID-19 knowledge. In July, hospital-noted knowledge became out there on the HHS Protect knowledge procedure, changing a CDC procedure. Arrieta was powering the launch of HHS Protect, a secure platform for collecting and examining COVID-19 knowledge.

In this Q&A, Nilsen talks about the legacy Arrieta leaves powering. He also describes what HHS could be looking for in a new CIO, which not only incorporates a robust checklist of skills, but also the skill to be both of those politically savvy and apolitical at the very same time.

Jose Arrieta was in the position of HHS CIO for a tiny extra than a yr. What was he capable to carry out in that time?

Steve Nilsen

Steve Nilsen: I believe Arrieta did a phenomenal position. It is the largest CIO position in the land, and he is a vocation-long community servant. He arrives from a procurement, supply chain qualifications and, to begin with, didn’t seem like the person that would be the most dynamic and crack new ground. But he showed that you can move rapid and you can get factors done in just the division. He had some tremendous accomplishments in the limited time he was there in phrases of employing blockchain in the procurement procedure, the HHS Protect platform that he stood up really speedily.

Due to the pandemic, a large amount of employing is using spot practically. Would that effect HHS’ CIO lookup?

Nilsen: It can be done. I have positioned corporate leaders all through this COVID time with out any physical deal with-to-deal with interaction. So it is really attainable. Now, the federal govt is perhaps a tiny little bit extra resistant to building a move like that. [The HHS CIO situation] is a really superior degree, so it would be an additional impediment to offer with, but it is attainable. It is really remaining done just about every working day throughout the lookup business for positive. We have all absent virtual.

What working experience would HHS be looking for in its subsequent CIO?

Nilsen: The obstacle here is, of training course, that so significantly [of the position] has been politicized. So, you are looking for any individual with political savvy due to the fact this is a political position regardless of whether you like it or not. …. [Nevertheless,] I believe at this position, as shocking as this might sound, [it is really] any individual who also has the skill to work throughout the aisle, any individual who’s not viewed as a political appointee. Skillset is priority No. 1, but next is remaining apolitical. I believe that is essential for continuity. Nonetheless the elections go, whoever arrives in requires to remain onboard.

In phrases of qualifications, Arrieta showed that robust emphasis on procurement and supply chain can help save a large amount of cash and raise performance. You do not essentially want to have been a CIO for that — Arrieta had not held the title [previously], but he has done the position. I also believe any individual who is robust in AI, somebody who can keep on the blockchain progress and any individual who understands cloud and stability will be [specified] superior priority going ahead. … The way the position is published, it is really really operational, it is really not really strategic. But I believe Arrieta took that operational position and turned it into one thing strategic, which is seriously an accomplishment. A variety candidate would also be magnificent. I believe it should really be a priority and there is tremendous talent out there, so I hope the lookup can take that into account.

What should really candidates be wondering about if they are looking at using on one thing like the HHS CIO position?

Nilsen: As I convey to all my C-degree candidates, because of diligence goes both of those strategies. You do not want to just take a situation just due to the fact it is really an interesting and massive position you want to just take it due to the fact you believe you can be productive. That because of diligence requires to take place, especially in this circumstance, specified that it is really a federal govt position, it has been somewhat politicized, it is really an election yr and we have a pandemic going on. There is a large amount extra than remaining the world’s best CIO that you want to consider going into this position and regardless of whether you are the proper man or woman to thrive in the position.

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