Maria Roat, SBA CIO, Named to 2020 Wash100 for Securing Valuable Partnerships, Introducing New Cloud Initiatives

Maria Roat
Maria Roat

Executive Mosaic is honored to present Maria Roat, chief information officer of the Small Business Administration, as an inductee into the 2020 Wash100 Award for developing new information technology and cloud initiatives and securing major partnerships.

This marks Roat’s first Wash100 Award. Roat became the SBA CIO in October 2016 bringing 30 years of professional experience in information technology. Roat served over 2 years as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Chief Technology Officer.

In the role, she was responsible for establishing and leading DOTs technical vision and strategic direction, driving innovation and planning for technology growth supporting internal and external facing mission activities. She has used her experience at the SBA to generate new technology growth and expand the company’s reach in the private and public sectors. 

Within the past year, Roat has contributed to dramatic growth within the administration concerning the SBA’s technology. In April 2019, the SBA issued the evaluation report highlighting that the agency needs to improve how it handles risk management, security, data mobility and information technology investments as well the adoption of federal standards to efficiently move data to the cloud and reduce disruption during migration.

The report analyzed SBA’s cloud systems inventory and migration efforts and oversight from fiscal year 2017 to 2018. The SBA recommended that the agency improve its cloud inventory and monitoring controls, data ownership portability and interoperability and documentation of cloud cost savings and service level requirements to support and secure its migration efforts.

In effect of the report, Roat drove SBA’s cloud, machine learning and artificial intelligence efforts to improve its systems and meet current expectations. In Sept. 2019, the administration concluded a pilot program to implement continuous diagnostics and mitigation in an effort to improve data security. 

The program, conducted with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saw SBA deploy a “dashboard” for visualizing the agency’s networks and potential vulnerabilities.  

According to Roat, the agency’s deployment of cloud technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning will provide benefits such as predictive capabilities for assessing network activity and a “360-degree view” of SBA customers.  “Enterprise transformation, there’s multiple pieces and parts to it, because it’s not just about putting one tool in place,” she said. 

“It’s looking at the entire ecosystem of technology, as well as the people and processes to really drive that digital transformation that we are in the midst of.”  SBA is working to implement its 2018 IT workforce strategy and is planning to fund efforts to consolidate its IT service desks, Roat noted.

In addition to the administration’s cloud, AI and IT growth, SBA also expanded its reach through securing valuable partnerships. In April 2020, the SBA partnered with Amazon and Microsoft to help the administration distribute approximately $350 billion worth of loans to small companies as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.  

A source with knowledge of the matter described the collaboration as "unprecedented public-private partnership."  The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the $2 trillion stimulus package President Donald Trump signed into law in March 2020 to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The loans will be paid through the program and seek to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll and pay rent and other utilities.  The office of inspector general at SBA has begun educating consumers, law enforcement officials and lenders about how to detect and prevent potential fraud schemes.    

Executive Mosaic applauds the Small Business Administration and Maria Roat for her 2020 Wash100 Award. Roat has accumulated a deep-rooted knowledge of technology experience across her 30-plus years of experience in the tech community. Her Wash100 Award win demonstrates the level of vision and success that Roat has brought to the agency and the GovCon sector.   

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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