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HHS picks Karl Mathias as CIO

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has tapped Karl Mathias as chief information officer.  

“HHS is pleased to welcome Dr. Karl Mathias as Chief Information Officer,” said HHS representatives in a statement sent to Healthcare IT News. “Dr. Mathias is a seasoned executive whose career has been defined by exceptional leadership and a commitment to service.”  

WHY IT MATTERS  

Mathias will be the eighth person to fill the CIO role in a permanent or acting capacity over the past seven years.   

According to reporting from Federal News Network’s Jason Miller, Mathias will join HHS on March 14.  

He’ll be taking over from George Chambers, who was appointed to acting CIO at the agency on January 1. Chambers, in turn, took the baton from Janet Vogel, who retired in December 2021 and who herself had replaced Perryn Ashmore, who retired in May of that year.  

Mathias has served as chief information officer for the U.S. Marshals Service since 2015.   

“In that role he was responsible for providing information technology services and support to 7,600 U.S. Marshals employees, contractors and task force officers spread across 475 sites within the United States and at eight overseas locations,” said HHS representatives.  

Before leading IT efforts at the Marshals, Mathias held a variety of roles in the U.S. Air Force, including deputy director of Headquarters Air Force Information Management from 2014 through 2015.   

He also worked at the Air Force Research Laboratory and as an assistant professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology.  

“A retired Air Force Officer, Dr. Mathias has served as analyst, engineer, and program manager on the Joint Surveillance System, the NORAD Battle Management System, combat simulations at the Air Force Wargaming Institute and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Enterprise Business System,” said HHS representatives.  

Mathias holds a doctorate in computer science and software engineering from Auburn University.  

“He has direct experience executing on areas that are key priorities for HHS, such as expanding our zero trust framework and robotics process automation,” said agency representatives.  

THE LARGER TREND

Mathias is just the most recent chief information officer to be hired by a federal department focused on technology-enabled healthcare improvement.  

This past November, for instance, President Joe Biden nominated Kurt DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, as CIO of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.   

DelBene was confirmed this past December by a voice vote in the Senate. But other federal agencies have had a tougher time getting their top leadership approved. Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, faced an uphill battle for his own confirmation – eventually squeaking by in a 50-46 Senate vote just this past month.

The announcement of Mathias’ appointment, meanwhile, comes on the heels of news, reported by FedScoop, that HHS’ first chief artificial intelligence officer, Oki Mek, has departed the agency – barely a year after it published its strategic plan for enterprise-wide AI initiatives at HHS.  

ON THE RECORD  

“Throughout his career, he has demonstrated technical expertise and the ability to manage complex organizations and teams effectively,” said HHS officials in a statement about Mathias’ hiring.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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