Niall Brennan, the former chief data officer (CDO) at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has returned to government as the senior advisor to Mandy Cohen, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In his new role, Brennan will be focused on ensuring the success of the CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative (DMI). The DMI is a unified, multi-billion-dollar effort to modernize data across the Federal and state public health landscape.

Brennan served as the CDO at CMS for over six years, leaving his post in early 2017 to serve as the president and CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute. Most recently, he served as the chief analytics and privacy officer at Clarify Health Solutions.

“It was very tough to leave the team at Clarify behind, but this seemed like a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on our public health data infrastructure and prepare it for future challenges,” Brennan said in a LinkedIn post.

“It is exciting to be back in government, working with Mandy again, and trying to effect positive change at scale,” he added. “I am looking forward to working with Jennifer Layden and her team to make the DMI initiative a roaring success.”

Layden is the director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology, where she provides leadership for the DMI.

Thus far, the DMI has already seen great success. Specifically, the CDC has rolled out a strategic implementation plan for the DMI, built an immunization data lake to handle the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and delivery; and created a cloud-based platform to?catalog, analyze, and publish findings faster.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.