Commerce CIO Szykman to leave after 7 years

Thursday - 2/20/2014, 3:34pm EST

Simon Szykman, the Commerce Department chief information officer, is leaving for the private sector.

In an email to staff, which Federal News Radio obtained, Szykman said after seven years as a federal CIO — four at Commerce and three at the National Institute of Standards and Technology — it was time to move on to new challenges.

Simon Szykman

"From a timing perspective, this is a good opportunity for me to turn the reigns over to somebody who will help take the Commerce Office of the CIO and Commerce IT leadership to the next level, and can make the long term commitment to carrying these new initiatives from planning to implementation phases," Szykman said in the email. "I do not have any fixed timing for my departure at this time. I do expect Commerce to move forward promptly with recruiting my successor, who may be in place as early as late May. The fact that my departure is not imminent in the near term will enable me to help support the recruiting process, put in place transition plans, and help maintain the momentum we have going with our numerous priority initiatives."

Szykman becomes the second long-time CIO to leave government in the last two months. Casey Coleman left as CIO of the General Services Administration in January after more than seven years in that role. Coleman now is client executive vice president for AT&T Government Solutions.

Szykman's decision isn't surprising. There had been rumors in industry that he was looking to make a change for the last several months.

During his tenure as Commerce CIO, Szykman moved the agency toward a better cyber posture by implementing its first security operations center that included continuous monitoring and improved risk management.

He also oversaw the implementation of department IT portfolio management policy that helped bring cost savings through strategic sourcing and shared services.

Additionally, Szykman took advantage of the "seat at the table" CIOs are supposed to have and worked closely with other CXOs to initiate and support changes through technology enablement.

"I am very proud of the significant progress we have made together in many areas over the past several years. The entirety of our contributions are too numerous to mention," he wrote. "There is, of course, still much to be done in these and other areas. With significant effort going on in the next few months in enterprise architecture and shared services planning, and in developing strategies to support the Secretary's new strategic plan, there will be much change-not only evolutionary but hopefully revolutionary as well."

Commerce has two deputy CIOs Kirit Amin and Izella Dornell, so it's unclear who will be acting should a new CIO not be named by the time Szykman does leave.

In related news, Anil Karmel, the former deputy chief technology officer at the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, left government and started his own firm, C2 Labs. Karmel will provide cloud assessments, cloud security and brokerage products and services.

Karmel left NNSA earlier this year after spending almost 11 years working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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