Federal CIO/CISO Turnover Rate Worries DHS Officials

Department of Homeland Security DHS

Two Federal government officials speaking today at an event organized by the Consortium for IT Software Quality expressed concern about what they see as an increasingly high turnover rate in recent years among Federal agency chief information officers and chief information security officers.

Mark Kneidinger, deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Risk Management Center, said turnover rates among agency CIOs and CISOs represent a “huge challenge” and that the government needs to figure out what is driving that trend.

He did not offer a comprehensive set of statistics on the turnover rate, but remarked that six years ago the average term of service for those positions might have been around three years, but that currently it was closer to 18 months or even less.

Betsy Kulick, deputy director of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program at the Department of Homeland Security, separately was asked at today’s event about the turnover rate in CIO/CISO positions in the context of training agency IT leaders in the cybersecurity improvements afforded by CDM.

She responded that turnover at the CIO and CISO levels “is a huge challenge for agencies,” but also for DHS’s CDM Program Office because “lesson learned” by the department IT leaders need to be reinforced with the new leaders that succeed them.  Kulick suggested that she wants to build a formal training program with new CIOs and CISOs to bridge any CDM-related knowledge and experience gaps.

Overall, Kulick said the CDM Program has delivered improved security capabilities at a rapid pace to Federal civilian agencies, and in particular claimed sizeable progress in helping agencies in asset tracking and identity management.

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