April 2016
Issue Map
The Public Manager

Clif Triplett

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management discovered two network breaches, which compromised millions of background checks and personnel information. In November, the office brought in Clif Triplett as its senior cyber and information technology advisor. His job is to help prevent future large-scale cybersecurity problems. Working with OPM's chief information officer, he'll also help respond to 2015's breaches.


About Clif Triplett

Clif Triplett has more than 30 years of management experience, often in the technological realm. After a distinguished military career in which he worked on the U.S. Nuclear Command and Control Systems, among other duties, Triplett moved to the private sector. He spent time as the chief information officer at several large companies, including Motorola (where he also served as corporate vice president of global ­services). Much of his experience focuses on helping companies protect their information through a technological lens.

What makes you qualified for this position, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I have more than 30 years of cross-industry and IT organizational transformation experience, including experience with multiple Fortune 200 companies that represent leaders in the defense, telecommunications, oil field service, tractor, automotive, and aerospace industries. I also spent nearly 10 years in the U.S. military working with advanced technologies in support of command and control systems. In each role, I was responsible for enterprise-level change across large organizations and the advancement of cybersecurity capabilities, among other duties.

As OPM's senior cyber and information technology advisor, I will help strengthen our cybersecurity posture, advance the agency's cybersecurity goals, and collaborate with a broad spectrum of interagency partners and stakeholders.

How did you prepare for this position, considering you're the first person to hold it?

This position is very consistent with challenges I have faced in other organizations and industries. It's not unusual for an organization to find itself at risk from cyber threats or challenged in acquiring the resources to address them. Prior to joining the organization, I talked to the federal chief information officer, the cybersecurity advisor to the president, and the acting director of OPM. These individuals' alignment and commitment to address the issues at hand was superior to every other organization I previously encountered. With my past experience, and the support I felt coming in, I was confident we could make a difference.


What is the importance of interfacing with other agencies in this position? How are you accomplishing that?

The federal government has a vast pool of diverse resources and experiences that can provide capabilities and solutions not possible for OPM on its own. Organizations, such as the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others, all support securing our systems. I, along with others at OPM, frequently meet and collaborate with these outstanding teams to design and implement solutions that will allow us to effectively meet the cybersecurity challenges we face.

What challenges have you faced jumping back to the public sector following years in the private sector?

I've had to learn a new set of acronyms, meet a new set of people, and comply with a new set of processes to institute change. These challenges are not unique to the government—they are common to moving into any large organization where rapid transformation is desired.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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