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Social Security Administration Names New CIO

The agency's new IT leader, Frank Baitman, inherits a variety of tech initiatives, including a claims processing system upgrade, healthcare IT, and building a new data center.

The Social Security Administration has hired Frank Baitman, a former business strategist with IBM, as its new CIO, filling a role that had been vacant since January.

Baitman, who joined the agency at the end of August, has years of business and IT experience, but none as a CIO. At the Social Security Administration, he's running an organization with a $1.3 billion IT budget.

"Frank has extensive global and domestic experience in both large enterprises and small companies balancing strategic problem-solving with tactical execution," Social Security Administration commissioner Michael Astrue said in an announcement to staff. "His experience has also lent itself to developing customized insights focused on technological and industry trends, healthcare informatics, emerging markets, and social services."

Baitman is in charge of IT capital planning, investment control, e-government, and cybersecurity at SSA. The agency is upgrading its claims processing systems, investing in healthcare IT, and it's in the early stages of building a $750 million data center. It will soon open a new backup facility for IT operations.

Baitman is expected to emphasize transparency and innovation in his new role, according to one source at the agency. On his Caffeinated Ideas blog, Baitman has advocated simplifying government procurement and written about the importance of public service.

Baitman was most recently a business strategy consultant. Before that, he was president of Petards, a security and surveillance software company. He was also president of a medical device startup and director of technology policy for DynCorp.

From 1996 to 2000, Baitman worked for IBM, where he served as director of corporate strategy for part of that time, a job that entailed identifying growth opportunities. He helped launch IBM's life sciences business and refocus the company's pervasive computing strategy on mobility and productivity.

Former Social Security CIO Tom Hughes departed the agency in January, and his deputy, Social Security veteran Greg Pace, had been serving as acting CIO.

Last month, the Social Security Administration agreed to pay more than $500 million in benefits that had been withheld from 80,000 people since January 2007 and to eliminate overpayment balances for tens of thousands of others. The decision was the result of a class action lawsuit against the agency that boiled down to a poorly implemented database system.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).

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