After nearly two years as Washington, D.C.’s chief information security officer, John MacMichael confirmed to StateScoop on Wednesday that he is returning to the private sector.
MacMichael said he has accepted a position as a leadership partner at research firm Gartner, where he will consult with a collection of commercial, federal and local government organizations on IT security. Though the decision to leave government was “really hard,” MacMichael, who has also worked in IT roles for the U.S. Navy and private companies like Charter Communications and Hawaiian Airlines, said the timing was right to move on. MacMichael’s departure, which will come in February, follows the resignation of D.C.’s chief technology officer, Archana Vemulapalli, which the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) announced in November.
“I’ll be honest — it was really hard because it’s an important mission that’s underfunded and as far as cities go, D.C.’s one of the best,” MacMichael said.
MacMichael is credited with helping the District to review what he calls its “cybersecurity stack” of tools to respond to threats. Even more importantly, he told StateScoop, during his time with the local government he saw the evolution of a responsive Security Operations Center.
“I think one of our greatest achievements is building out a very resilient and robust SOC that’s able to take information from [the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center], our federal partners, parse that information and then to make it actionable and help us defend the network,” MacMichael said.
Though transitioning out of government for the time being, MacMichael said his role at Gartner will afford him the chance to help government organizations, essentially acting as a deputy CISO in organizations that are strapped for resources and could use the help knowing how to manage their most important projects.
“I’ll bring Gartner intelligence, analysis and thought leadership to them and help them be more successful,” MacMichael said.
Workforce is one of government IT security’s biggest challenges, MacMichael said, and though D.C. may have it a little easier — with nearby Virginia and Maryland each serving as tech-industry hubs — he said he understands the challenges that organizations face and hopes to continue lending his expertise.
“[D.C. is] an enterprise network — 600,000 residents, 90 agencies, 40,000 users — it’s a big network, and so that’s been a real challenge and very rewarding to be the CISO for such a large enterprise network,” MacMichael said.
In an internal email to the city’s CIOs and IT leads, MacMichael wrote that he has been “incredibly fortunate” to work alongside them and extended his “ongoing gratitude for their support and their willingness to support the ‘Enterprise IT Security Management’ vision that we created and shared with the District.”