Cyber Medic

James Kegley

After the flubbed debut of the website, Kevin Charest, chief information security officer at the Health and Human Services Department, knew he had to roll up his sleeves alongside the people who make the agency’s programs work.  

“In many ways my job has been to set policies at the department level that then can be translated and adhered to at the local level,” he says. When lawmakers grilled him and another agency official on security vulnerabilities in the
online health insurance marketplace, it became clear he was not part of the operations side of the project, Charest admits.

“Here are two guys being asked to testify, but they were not involved in the design and implementation and security decisions associated with the thing they are testifying about,” he says.

Now Charest is much more attuned to managers on the front lines. “I think there’s been an awakening that we’re partners,” he says. “I’m not the boogeyman. And, in fact, when and if something does happen, it’s the department that has to bear the brunt of that.”

He acknowledges that the linkage between and networks in other federal agencies, local governments, companies and homes nationwide creates a bull’s-eye for identity thieves. But that interconnection also creates a nexus for information sharing, he says. 

The upside: HHS improves the security of that entire sector with a single signal of an incoming threat, Charest says. 

“The more interconnected we all become, the more we better make sure that we’re all doing our very best to defend this infrastructure,” he says. “We’ve seen a rash of threats hit the retail community over the last few months. We don’t want to see a similar thing happen in health care.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.