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Dorothy Aronson Takes New NSF Role Amid CIO Office Changes

Aronson will transition into a principal advisor role as NSF restructures the CIO role to include CTO responsibilities.

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Dorothy Aronson Takes New NSF Role Amid CIO Office Changes
Photo Credit: GovCIO Media & Research

After serving as the National Science Foundation’s CIO for the past 16 years, Dorothy Aronson will transition into a principal advisor role as the agency restructures the Office of the CIO into the Office of Business Information Technology Services. The head of the new office, a position for which NSF is currently accepting applications through Feb. 27, will serve as both CIO and CTO for the organization.

In the field of IT, innovation is always key to success. Aronson and her team were responsible for creating IT systems propelling positive change. As NSF CIO, Aronson oversaw HOPPER, named after U.S. Navy computer scientist Grace Hopper. HOPPER is an innovation management group that provides a collaborative space for ideas.

“I want to make sure that everyone who’s got an innovation talks about it and shares it with us so that we can promote it broadly,” Aronson said in reference to HOPPER during a recent GovCast interview with GovCIO Media & Research.

During her time at NSF, Aronson was committed to helping the voiceless be heard. She was a proponent of the agency’s Career Compass Challenge initiative. The competition was created to find new ways for individuals in the labor force to better adapt to the changing times. Participants proposed solutions and then developed them into working prototypes. The winning product, PathwayU, provides services that help users find a career path that speaks to them. Since its release, the platform has been used by many universities as a resource to help students plan out their futures.

Aronson was pleased with the outcome of the Career Compass Challenge. “The resulting prototype is impressive, and we did what we set out to achieve. We started a conversation about creating tools that enable people to create their own destinies,” she said.

Aronson also helped standardize NSF’s data inventory and set data standards and governance for improved data interoperability.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in business from Duke University in 1981, Aronson worked in a number of roles. Before she joined the NSF as its CIO in 2006, she worked as an accountant, mainframe computer programmer, and government contractor. Her previous roles allowed her to develop a diverse set of skills, enabling her successful career.

Aronson’s prior experience, combined with her time serving as the director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Office of Management Operations, prepared her for her NSF tenure. She acted as both the agency’s CIO and CDO. Additionally, she served in a leadership position as the Senior Agency Official for the NSF’s privacy program.

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