Third-Highest Ranking DOD Official Resigns After 9 Months

After serving in the position for a mere nine months, John “Jay” Gibson has announced that he will step aside as the Department of Defense’s chief management officer, the third-highest ranking official within the Pentagon, according to Federal News Network’s Jared Serbu.

Despite his short tenure, a Pentagon spokesman praised Gibson’s tenure, saying his efforts “will pay dividends in Fiscal Year 2019,” but otherwise failing to offer any explanation for Gibson’s decision to step away from his duties.

Serbu cites a Wall Street Journal report from September that claimed Secretary of Defense James Mattis has been “dissatisfied with the pace of the institutional reforms he (Gibson) was tasked with implementing, and that his role was being cut back while the Trump administration searched for a replacement.”

The rate of turnover amongst high-level officials, notably those serving in roles considered crucial to federal IT modernization efforts, has been high enough to raise concerns, including from Mark Kneidinger, the deputy director of DHS’ National Risk Management Center, who called the rate of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) turnover a “huge challenge.”

Kneidinger estimated that whereas six years ago, the average candidate might fill a CIO or CISO role for three years, the average was likely now closer to 18 months, making it difficult to appropriately transition or to establish consistent stability within agencies. These weaknesses are especially concerning at a time of ever-increasing cyberthreats from both state and non-state actors.

The shake-ups have not been confined solely to the realm of IT, however, with other notable departures including that of former OPM Director Jeff Pon, who is said to have been forced out at OPM to allow many of OPM’s functions essentially to be overseen by OMB via Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert.

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