HHS appoints Perryn Ashmore acting CIO, CDO

Ashmore will pick up where José Arrieta, who resigned to spend more time with his kids, left off with major initiatives like HHS Protect.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Perryn Ashmore took over as both the Department of Health and Human Services’ chief information officer and chief data officer in an acting capacity at close of business Friday, according to an agency spokesperson.

Ashmore previously served as principal deputy CIO and had a “close partnership” with his predecessor, José Arrieta, said Eric Hargan, deputy secretary of HHS, in the announcement.

Arrieta, who served as HHS’s CIO since May 2019 and later acting CDO as well, departed Friday, two weeks after announcing his resignation.

“We are immensely grateful for the work that José Arrieta did during his time at HHS, leaving a legacy of transformative advances in our department’s data work, better business practices that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and stronger protections for our department’s networks from cyber attacks,” Hargan said. “In particular, the unprecedented data hub created in HHS Protect will be a lasting, invaluable legacy of Jose’s time at HHS.”


Ashmore is expected to continue that work in a “seamless transition,” Hargan added.

Since late February, Arrieta had been working 18- to 22-hour days including weekends helping stand up HHS Protect, a health platform compiling data from now more than 225 public and private systems to track and limit COVID-19’s spread, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. By resigning he has the opportunity to spend more time with his kids and help them learn while they’re home during the pandemic, the person said.

Arrieta is also spending some of his extra time reflecting on his nearly 17 years in government.

“Over the last three years at HHS, I’ve learned many lessons and failed many times,” Arrieta wrote in a LinkedIn post Monday. “The most important lesson I learned is that a culture committed to innovation and learning from failure is strong and needed to pivot a large entity and combat the largest pandemic in the documented history of humanity.”

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