VA CIO, technology chief: “We put the Veteran at the center of everything we do.”

I have had the honor to serve in the Obama Administration as the assistant secretary of Information and Technology, and chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This appointment was a true gift, given my family’s history in serving this country. My father was a Navy Veteran; my stepdad retired from the Army after 20 years of service; and my father-in-law served in the Air Force. In 2014, my nephew retired from the Navy after over 20 years of service. My immediate family and I made a commitment to the CIO role so that through me, we are able to serve those who have served us.

My focus as assistant secretary and CIO has been to ensure that the team is fully engaged in working on the challenges within VA IT and on implementing solutions to create effective interfaces to our Veterans and user communities. Throughout my tenure at VA, the CIO organization has been driving continuous change. This was not incremental change, but comprehensive, discontinuous change. In 2016, about 70 percent of leadership was doing something different from the year before. When we began this journey we first committed to five management principles that guided me in my private sector work. Our success at VA proves these are effective in government as well.

Stay focused on the customer

We put the Veteran at the center of everything we do. And I ask my team to reflect on one question to guide all their daily activities: “What