Leslie Beavers is the new acting chief information officer for the U.S. Defense Department.

“I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Acting Chief Information Officer at United States Department of Defense,” Beavers wrote in July on LinkedIn. The department’s website now lists her as acting CIO.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon did not immediately return a request for comment.

As the primary IT adviser to the defense secretary, Beavers is taking over from former CIO John Sherman, who stepped down in June to take a position outside government as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Previously serving as the principal deputy CIO at the Pentagon, Beavers is well acquainted with the Defense Department’s many ongoing initiatives meant to secure the defense-industrial base, develop 5G technologies and explore artificial intelligence.

Since she came to the department, Beavers has worked on landmark endeavors like Project Herald, the Pentagon’s plan to transform digital intelligence sharing, and Fulcrum, the recently announced IT transformation strategy. The latter is where she is most focused now on building momentum, she said in her LinkedIn post.

“[That] gives you tangible steps to turn that strategic vision into an operational reality,” Beavers said at the 2024 TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, which took place June 25-27. “It’ll be followed by an implementation plan, which will give some more information.”

The former Air Force intelligence officer and retired brigadier general comes to the position at a time when the DOD is beginning to put many of its theories around zero trust, cloud computing, machine learning and cybersecurity into practice.

The department for several years now released guidance thanks to the help of working groups and testing approaches via pilots. Now, officials say, it’s in a position to actually phase in solutions. The department has a goal to come up with a data tagging and labeling strategy by the end of the calendar year.

Beavers also said at TechNet Cyber that she anticipates growth in the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability procurement vehicle as other contracts begin to expire.

At the same time, challenges persist for Beavers and her office, including cyber workforce shortages, unpredictable funding and technical debt that separates the services from the modern approaches they’re after.

All the while, China looms as a major U.S. adversary on the digital battlefield, and attacks on public infrastructure underscore the urgency of predicting and intercepting cyberthreats.

The DOD is seeking $14.5 billion in fiscal 2025 for its cyberspace programs. According to the DOD’s website, Kevin Mulvihill is the new acting principal deputy CIO.

Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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