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Vid Desai Leads FDA’s New Digital Transformation Office as CIO

The agency is taking on tech modernization with new office and new appointments.

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Vid Desai, Chief Information Officer, FDA
Vid Desai, Chief Information Officer, FDA Photo Credit: Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched the new Office of Digital Transformation (ODT) on Sept. 15, combining its IT, data management and cybersecurity portfolios under one function. The new ODT includes the Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT), Office of Data, Analytics, and Research and Office of Information Security.

The FDA also formally appointed Vid Desai, former acting chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO), to the CIO role to lead the new division. He will report directly to FDA’s commissioner.

“The office has been realigned to report directly to the FDA commissioner, elevating the office and its functions to agency-level,” Desai said in a LinkedIn post. “This reorganization will advance the agency’s information technology transformation with improved data and IT competencies that improve agency operations to support the public health mission.”

Desai assumed the role of acting CIO in April 2021 following the departure of principal deputy commissioner and acting CIO Dr. Amy Abernethy. Desai joined the agency in August 2019 from the private sector and has worked to advance FDA’s public health goals through emerging technologies, including developing modern and more integrated IT systems and advanced analytics.

The reorganization of FDA’s technology functions into the ODT will better support the agency’s technology and data modernization efforts that began more than two years ago with the Technology Modernization Action Plan (TMAP) and Data Modernization Action Plan (DMAP).

“This reorganization ensures that our people, investments, and processes are all aligned to meet today’s challenges and to prepare us for the rapidly changing future that the TMAP and DMAP outlines,” Desai said.

ODT now allows FDA to bring more effective and efficient data and IT management to streamline and advance the agency’s operations by reducing duplicative processes, implementing technological efficiencies, and promoting shared services within agency offices.

“By prioritizing data and information stewardship throughout all of our operations, the American public is better assured of the safety of the nation’s food, drugs, medical devices and other products that the FDA regulates in this complex world. This reorganization strengthens our commitment to protecting and promoting public health by improving our regulatory processes with a solid data foundation built in at every level,” Janet Woodcock, FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a press announcement.

Sohail Chaudhry will serve as acting CTO, following Desai’s promotion. Chaudhry is responsible for the implementation, operations and maintenance of IT. He is also charged with enabling the office to merge the recommended technologies with the strategic business objectives of the organization.

“Today, every business process is directly or indirectly dependent on the use of technology. Data is foundational to everything we do as a science-based agency and is also a necessary ingredient for most good business decisions,” Desai said. “I am delighted to see the FDA leadership be an early adopter within the Federal government of what I believe is necessary for most organizations today.”

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