New Virginia CIO to bring new vision, strategy to state

Virginia's new CIO, Nelson Moe, says he's developing a new strategy that reconsiders the state's IT outsourcing arrangement and puts new focus on the business needs of state agencies.

Nelson Moe has been in the driver’s seat for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency for little more than two weeks, but the former U.S. House of Representatives CIO has no shortage of plans and ideas to move the state forward.

As the commonwealth’s new chief information officer, reporting to the state’s Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, Moe is already formulating a new vision and strategy for the state’s technology agency. He’s also preparing to lead negotiations and planning for the expiration of an outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman in 2019.

“The first order of business for me is to capture the business vertical,” Moe told StateScoop in the first interview he’s given as Virginia’s CIO. “[I want to] understand the perspective of my customers, including down to the agency head, their CIOs, and capture the vertical when it comes to the interaction with the legislative committees and legislative branch areas.”

Moe stands to benefit from the efforts of his predecessor and new colleague, Eric Link, the agency’s executive director for legal and legislative services, who had been acting as the state’s CIO between the departure of former CIO Sam Nixon and Moe’s first day.


While Moe has a laundry list of plans and ideas for the commonwealth, one of his top priorities will inevitably be to plan for the expiration of a major IT outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman. Moe told StateScoop he is still getting briefed on some of the inner complexities of the contract.

“The comprehensive infrastructure agreement has been around since 2003,” Moe said. “There’s a lot of information behind it. I’d like to be well down the road of the planning process [in a year]. That’s the bread and butter for service delivery [for Virginia].”

In addition to dealing with the Northrop Grumman contract, Moe told StateScoop he hopes to help address the commonwealth’s needs for a digital government and find ways to make the state’s services more agile, cost-effective and efficient.

“I’m focusing on adaptability and urgency,” Moe said. “Time, tide and technology wait for no one.”

Moe comes to the post after serving for three years as CIO of the U.S. House of Representatives and 14 years working in the U.S. legislative branch.  His tenure there, he said, taught him to appreciate the government business vertical — especially in IT services and cybersecurity.


“Working at the House gave me a deep understanding of the broad range of IT services that are provided in a cost effective and secure manner,” Moe said. At the same time, he came to understand that the House of Representatives, and the Congress of the United States, are “a high value target for many people in the cyber area, so we had to address those quite often.”

The new state CIO’s experience in cybersecurity should prove to be an asset as he adopts the cybersecurity strategy and mission of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has been notably quick to adapt to the cybersecurity priorities of the Obama administration. McAuliffe, for instance, moved quickly to establish a cybersecurity working group and Virginia was the first state with an information sharing and analysis organization.

Moe admits VITA is “a larger enterprise than I’m used to. But the complexities are similar to the House of Representatives, so I’m confident that the particular things that we’re going to run into, I can provide the leadership to get to the other end.”

As Moe settles into the new role, he also said he intends to be “very active” in the state IT community, including through associations like the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

“One thing my previous careers have taught me is the ability to interact accordingly with people of all different agendas and views and priorities,” Moe said. “The NASCIO format is a great example of learning from other entities with similar restraints, resources and priorities.”

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