The Senate confirmed James Gfrerer as assistant secretary for the Office of Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday evening on a voice vote, filling the permanent CIO role that had been vacant since the start of the Trump administration.
Gfrerer, who was nominated by President Trump in July, has held multiple roles in both the Federal government and the IT private sector, most recently as executive director of Ernst & Young’s cybersecurity practice. Gfrerer served in the Marine Corps for over 20 years, and commanded the Marine Corps Information Operations Center. He also worked at the State Department as both a deputy coordinator and senior military advisor.
Gfrerer’s confirmation brings stability to a position that has seen three acting officials in two years. He replaces acting CIO Camilo Sandoval, who filled the role of executive-in-charge for the Office of Information and Technology since April. Gfrerer is the first permanent assistant secretary for IT since Laverne Council left at the end of the Obama administration.
The confirmation comes as the VA continues extensive IT modernization efforts. The department’s $16 billion electronic health record modernization effort continues to move forward, and the department also aims to be a leader in customer experience. However, the VA has faced some highly publicized IT issues in recent months. The department ran into delays in dispersing GI Bill housing benefits due to inadequate IT in November, attracting congressional scrutiny, and the agency’s electronic health records modernization effort continues to be monitored by Congress for setbacks.