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Trump adviser acknowledges slow pace of IT hires

October 12, 2017
In The News

One of President Trump’s advisers on Thursday acknowledged that the administration has been slow to permanently fill top information technology roles in the federal government.

Chris Liddell, one of the officials in the White House Office of American Innovation, said that he would like the administration to move “faster” on filling vacant chief information officer (CIO) positions across the government. 

“Absolutely, I’d love to see us go a little faster,” Liddell said at a technology summit in Washington on Thursday. “It’s not directly inside my control, but we have way too many open positions, including federal CIO … way too many acting CIOs.” 

Trump has been scrutinized for not filling some top technology roles more than eight months into his administration. Among the positions with no permanent occupant is that of federal chief information officer. Meanwhile, the administration lost a number of top IT officials over the summer, including the CIO of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who Trump had nominated just months before.

The federal government has long faced a challenge in competing with the private sector to recruit and retain technology and cybersecurity professionals.

Liddell was responding to questions on Thursday from Tony Scott, who served as federal CIO under the Obama administration, at a conference hosted by CA Technologies. 

Liddell, a former executive at Microsoft and General Motors, said that he is focused on finding new ways to incentivize top tech talent from the private sector to come and work for the government.

“We need to get permanent positions filled, but I would also like to see us go further,” Liddell said. 

He floated the idea of establishing a “cyber national guard,” which has been pushed by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who also spoke on Liddell’s panel. 

Such a program would involve offering federal scholarships to students pursuing cyber-related degrees who would commit to working for a period of time in the federal government and, after transitioning into the private sector, rotate back into federal IT roles periodically throughout their career for short bursts of time.

“It is something I am focused on, how we create new pathways for people,” Liddell said. 

“I’d love to see us go further and faster,” Liddell added. “If there’s one thing that I feel like is a missed opportunity, it’s getting more people on.” 

Liddell is one of four Trump officials operating the Office of American Innovation which includes senior adviser, and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner and first daughter Ivanka Trump.