The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has appointed Perryn Ashmore acting CIO, following the departure of former CIO Jose Arrieta on August 28.

Earlier this month, HHS confirmed Arrieta’s plans to step down as CIO and interim chief data officer (CDO), but did not name an acting CIO at that time.

Ashmore, who has served in Federal government positions for more than 30 years, has been Principal Deputy CIO at HHS and the agency’s Customer Experience Executive, and was responsible for implementing a major upgrade of the agency’s human resources management system. Prior to his tenure with HHS, Ashmore held positions with the Federal Communications Commission, and was deputy CIO and chief technology officer at the General Services Administration.

“HHS’s leaders look forward to continuing close work with Perryn Ashmore as Acting CIO,” said Eric Hargan, the agency’s deputy secretary, in a statement. “Jose and Perryn’s close partnership and Perryn’s extensive experience in federal service will ensure a seamless transition for the department.”

Commenting on Arrieta’s tenure, Hargan said, “We are immensely grateful for the work that Jose Arrieta did during his time at HHS, leaving a legacy of transformative advances in our department’s data work, better business practices that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and stronger protections for our department’s networks from cyber attacks.” He added, “In particular, the unprecedented data hub created in HHS Protect will be a lasting, invaluable legacy of Jose’s time at HHS.”

HHS – one of the largest Federal agencies with a workforce of 83,000 people – has been at the center of the Federal government’s COVID-19 response through numerous component agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Arrieta tells the story of the agency’s fast-paced work on the technology front to meet the coronavirus health emergency in MeriTalk’s CIO Crossroads. Arrieta’s HHS story includes fending off large-scale DDOS attacks on agency networks in March, and the subsequent launch of the agency’s HHS Protect project in April to gather, analyze, and share billions of COVID-19 data points.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.