Veterans Affairs Department Appoints New CTO

New CTO Marina Martin broke fresh ground as an entrepreneur in government, a Presidential Innovation Fellow and as senior adviser to federal CTO Todd Park.
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The Veterans Affairs Department has appointed Marina Martin, a senior advisor to federal Chief Technology Office Todd Park and a former Presidential Innovation Fellow, to take the reins as the VA's new CTO. Martin also was made senior advisor to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

Jonah Czerwinski, director of VA Center for Innovation, confirmed the news on Twitter: "We have a new CTO at @DeptVetAffairs! Welcome to @MarinaMartin!"

Martin, a Web developer and business efficiency expert, hails from consulting firm The Type-A Way, where she served as CEO. In August 2012, she was selected from an applicant pool of 700 people to become a Presidential Innovation Fellow. The 18 fellows spent six months in Washington D.C. participating in five high-impact projects aimed at improving how the federal government serves the public. The fellows paired with top innovators in government with a goal of delivering significant results in six months.

[ What makes a good IT leader? Read 5 Habits Of Highly Effective Government IT Leaders. ]

Martin worked on Project Open Data, a collection of code, tools, and case studies to help federal agencies adopt the Open Data Policy, released by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy in May. The Open Data Policy was created to make previously unavailable government data accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers and the public.

Prior to joining the VA, Martin was also the first entrepreneur-in-residence at the Department of Education and head of the Education Data Initiative to make education data available in machine-readable formats. In that role, Martin collaborated with companies and startups to improve open educational data sets and standards. Park has described Martin as one of "the baddest of the badass innovators."

Martin replaces Peter Levin, who resigned in March. Levin served as the department's CTO for more than three years. He is known for leading health record modernization initiatives at VA, including the creation of Blue Button technology for veterans to share electronic health records with physicians. Levin left VA for the private sector. He is now CEO of data security company Amida Tech, working alongside another Presidential Innovation Fellow, Dmitry Kachaev.

The VA didn't provide any other details about Martin's new role at press time. The agency is the middle of eliminating its claims backlog, a goal it's trying to reach by the end of 2015. It also has been rolling out a new paperless system to process and track disability claims. However, the backlog is still growing at some VA offices. As of June, the VA reported 816,839 pending claims, 66% of which have been pending for more than 125 days. Martin has a big challenge ahead in addressing this issue, and others facing VA, as she brings her private sector expertise to the new job.

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