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Virginia CIO Moe Steps Down as New Governor Takes Reins

The state's new governor has named a Federal Reserve veteran to take over an administrative role overseeing the IT agency. The incoming administration has called for more focus on cybersecurity and ransomware attacks.

Virginia Chief Information Officer Nelson Moe
With a new governor taking office in Virginia, state CIO Nelson Moe is stepping down and a former Federal Reserve CIO has taken a leadership role overseeing technology.

Margaret “Lyn” McDermid has become the state’s new secretary of administration, an appointment made by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican inaugurated this week.

Moe, whom Government Technology named one of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of 2021, held the CIO job for about six years.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, McDermid worked for the Federal Reserve System from 2013 to 2020 as CIO and director of Federal Reserve Information Technology. She focused on such issues as cybersecurity and IT strategy, investment and spending. Her work also included managing national IT operations and enterprise architecture and standards.

Before that, she was senior vice president and CIO for Virginia-based Dominion Resources, an energy company. During some two decades of work at Dominion she helped oversee cybersecurity and technology investments.

McDermid also was the first woman to win acceptance to the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding, also in Virginia, according to the governor’s statement.

During his campaign last year against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin charged that the state was doing too little on cybersecurity — an accusation made amid a ransomware attack targeting Virginia officials. Youngkin reportedly called the two-year, $60 million cybersecurity plan proposed by incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam “inadequate.”

Now he is counting on McDermid to boost efforts to stop cyber criminals, among other tasks.

“Her vast experience will allow us to hit the ground running on day one as we seek to revamp our cybersecurity system to keep pace with growing security risks; root out waste, fraud and abuse; and fix the Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Employment Commission,” Youngkin said in that statement.

Government technology contracting and deployments also face other challenges — and opportunities — in Virginia as the new state administration starts work.

For instance, Moe’s tenure saw the shift away from so-called “mega contracts” in favor of more flexible deals with vendors, along with all the work and improvisation brought upon by the pandemic. Moe also helped to craft new performance metrics for state IT work — overall, he had to deal with the needs of 63 state agencies and some 60,000 employees.