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DHS cyber office picks Preston Werntz to be CDO

The Cybersecurity and Communications Office at the Department of Homeland Security has named Preston Werntz to the post of chief data officer, FCW has learned.

According to a source, Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, announced the move in an April 6 email to staff, saying Werntz would be working to improve how the office collects, uses, manages and publishes its data.

Last year, DHS was criticized in an inspector general report for not effectively managing its data strategy across operations. The Werntz move could signal a desire to overhaul the way DHS analyzes and deploys information that flows to the agency.

The department and its cyber wing, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, process massive amounts of cybersecurity and threat-related data every day from federal agencies and the private sector through a range of programs; Werntz brings both the technical background and institutional knowledge to take advantage. Before accepting the new position, he spent five and a half years as chief of the Technology Services Section for the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center at DHS, and he has worked within the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications since 2009.

Werntz was one of the chief architects of the Automated Indicator Sharing program, which is designed to share cyber threat information between the federal government and private sector. Werntz won Fed 100 honors in 2017 for his role in the program. AIS is viewed as one of the crown jewels of DHS-led cybersecurity efforts, even as officials acknowledge the buy-in from private sector organizations has yet to match expectations.

Werntz also led a pilot project in 2015 to stand up and test the Trusted Automated Exchange of Indicator Information server program and led efforts to stand up NCCIC.

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