Suzette Kent, Federal CIO, Named to 2020 Wash100 for Advancing Federal IT Intelligence and Cybersecurity

Suzette Kent
Suzette Kent

Executive Mosaic is honored to present Suzette Kent, federal chief information officer (CIO) for The White House, as an inductee into the 2020 edition of the Wash100 Award for guiding the federal government’s development and integration of advanced technology, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

This marks Kent’s second consecutive Wash100 Award. She secured her 2019 Wash100 Award for driving government cybersecurity and modernizing federal agencies information technology (IT) services.  Kent has continued to spearhead major technology and security initiatives within the federal government throughout the year.

Most notably, Kent helped the White House develop a prioritization strategy for citizen privacy, research, economy, geospatial data, transparency and modern technology in its first Federal Data Strategy in March 2019.

Under Kent’s organization, the Federal Data Strategy highlighted the need to preserve individual privacy, build citizen trust, continue research on data, promote fiscal data transparency, expand ethical frameworks and build reusable data and access tools.

“We’re ensuring that we’re using federal data to grow the economy and increase effectiveness in government,” Kent said. “We’re also expanding some of the things that we have done in the geospatial area, which is one of the most successful areas of open data so far,” she added.

Since the strategy was released, the federal government has taken major steps to expand new technology. Kent led the government’s cloud transformation to expand the reach of federal agencies in May 2019. She stated that agencies need to identify cloud implementation strategies that work best for specific organization operations.

She also noted that agencies must “do a full-scale rationalization” of relevant applications and implement a broader set of capabilities to fit individual missions. Most agency cloud migration efforts involve lengthy procedures and often lead to the deployment of a hybrid cloud environment, she added.

Kent cited cloud adoption differences in federal entities like the Department of Justice (DOJ), which runs over 30 cloud infrastructures and “moved things very quickly because of the benefits of security, scalability and some of the other capabilities.”

In addition to Kent’s leadership within cloud integration, she also reported on the policy changes for cloud computing in Sept. 2019. Kent addressed, in regards to a federal memo, the updated TIC guidance in regards to federal cloud capabilities.

The White House stated that the government will no longer require agencies to flow internet traffic through a physical TIC access point in order to provide them more flexibility in ensuring their cybersecurity posture as they move to the cloud.

“[The memo] still requires agencies to meet all the strict security requirements that have always been a priority and are even more of a priority now,”  said Kent. “But it includes new pathways to take advantage of modern technology, the capabilities of software, that wasn’t even imagined when that original policy was written.”

The memo has required that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue guidance on the development and management of pilot programs and approve use cases to “promote flexibility while maintaining a focus on security outcomes.”

As 2019 came to a close, the White House began to develop new technology initiatives for the upcoming year. Kent outlined the current administration’s information technology security priorities for fiscal year 2020 in Oct. 2019. She said cybersecurity is considered by the Trump administration as a “high priority” and is “embedded” in its IT modernization efforts.

Kent mentioned other priorities in the “execution agenda” for FY 2020, including federal identity and access management; increased information sharing and enterprise cyber risk management; the Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy and other talent development efforts; and automated continuous monitoring.

Since her October address, Kent has supervised the early stages of execution for the FY 2020 strategy, she stated in Jan. 2020. She will continue to oversee federal agencies’ implementation of multi-factor authentication, identity management, mobile security and other components of zero-trust architecture.

“There is successful alignment in the concepts … of where we need to go with advanced identity management, strong network foundations, use of data matched to the mission and the function of that individual,” she said Tuesday at the Zero Trust Security Summit.

Despite progress in some areas, Kent said the federal government needs more work to do to further advance zero trust, which she said requires understanding of the organizational structure. She will continue to advance the government’s IT policies throughout the year.

Executive Mosaic congratulates Suzette Kent for her 2020 Wash100 Award. Kent’s continued dedication to enhance federal technology initiatives and supervise its implementation proves that she is a notable figure in the GovCon sector and a leader in the development of new security practices as the complexity of technology advances.

About The Wash100

This year represents our sixth annual Wash100 Award selection. The Wash100 is the premier group of private and public sector leaders selected by Executive Mosaic’s organizational and editorial leadership as the most influential leaders in the GovCon sector. These leaders demonstrate skills in leadership, innovation, achievement, and vision.

Visit the Wash100 site to learn about the other 99 winners of the 2020 Wash100 Award. On the site, you can submit your 10 votes for the GovCon executives of consequence that you believe will have the most significant impact in 2020.

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