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Innovators & Influencers: Robert Howard Is Looking To Batten Down The VA

Retired army general tapped to secure Veterans' data, update agency's tech skills
After several exceedingly embarrassing information security breaches this year at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it's Robert Howard's mission to plug the holes. He's the agency's new assistant secretary for IT and its first centralized CIO.

To say the bar has been raised high would be an understatement. "The VA will become the gold standard in government for securing information," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson said when Howard, a retired Army general, was sworn in two months ago.

Things already are changing. Many laptops have been encrypted, and in 2007 VA personnel will be trained in new security procedures.

Career development for many of the 4,000 IT people under Howard's management is a priority: "We have some IT people who haven't had any tech training for a very long time."

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