On Leadership Making improvements at the Department of Veterans Affairs

LaVerne H. Council is the assistant secretary for information and technology and the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There she oversees the VA's $4 billion IT budget and more than 8,000 employees and 8,000 contractors.

Council, who spent years in the private sector, including serving as the first Global CIO at Johnson & Johnson, joined the administration in 2015 to help upgrade the VA's internal systems and improve services for veterans. She talked about her government experiences and her leadership philosophy with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and the vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What motivated you to come to work for the federal government--and the VA in particular--after many years in the private sector?

A: I got a call from the White House saying: You've probably read about the VA's problems in the news, would you be interested in a presidential appointment to address some of these issues?

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