FDA's Long, Long Search for a Chief Information Officer

Posted 03 November 2014 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

FDA's Long, Long Search for a Chief Information Officer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is having a difficult time finding a suitable candidate for its vacant chief information officer (CIO) position.


FDA has been without a permanent CIO since March 2013, when Eric Perakslis, formerly of Johnson & Johnson, left the agency after just six months. The position has been filled on an acting basis since then by Walter Harris, who is also FDA's deputy commissioner for operations.

As FierceBiotechIT noted in April 2013, FDA has gone through five CIOs since 2008. However, FDA recently split off some duties from the CIO position, creating a new chief health informatics officer (CHIO), a position now held by Taha Kass-Hout.

As Regulatory Focus first reported, FDA has been seeking a replacement CIO since at least September 2013, when it first posted a job solicitation to the USAJOB.gov website. The position called for a candidate with a degree in one of six technology fields (computer science, engineering, information science, technology management, business) or equivalent experience in information technology.

New Position Announcement

Now, more than a year later, FDA is once again re-posting its position description for the CIO position, and this time removing those requirements from the posting. A review of the new USAJOBS.gov posting by Regulatory Focus found the new posting to be almost identical to the old posting, but with one exception: FDA will no longer require applicants to possess a degree or relevant experience in information technology, business or engineering.

Instead, FDA's notice now calls for someone with, "Demonstrated experience in a managerial capacity with responsibility for providing supervisory direction to a large and diverse organization responsible for promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the administration of programs and operations on a national level and preventing and detecting fraud and abuse in such programs and operations."

FDA also wants a candidate with, "Demonstrated experience in a scientific computing and technology."

In a recent interview with Federal News Radio, Harris said FDA was on the verge of hiring a new CIO, and expected to announce a hire by the end of 2014.


FDA Job Posting for CIO Position

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