Meet Walter Harris, M.B.A., P.M.P., Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chief Information Officer
Mr. Harris brings to FDA more than 20 years of leadership and management experience from the private sector and in the federal government. He has managed at the executive levels in the areas of public health operations, healthcare operations, information technology (IT), and has led organizational development for large and small organizations.
Mr. Harris served 6 years in the Unites States Air Force and was selected to serve as a liaison to the Secretary of Defense, Honorable Casper Weinberger. Mr. Harris was also recalled to serve during Operation Desert Storm.
After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Harris joined the Sodexho Marriott Corporation as a food service manager in the health care division. Sodexho Marriott has accounts with acute-care hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement communities across the United States. Over 15 years of service, he worked his way up through the health care ranks from food service manager to operations officer. During his tenure, he was also tasked with large-scale construction and technology programs that enabled healthcare organizations to successfully provide patients and customers with high quality health care products and services. He realized that the combination of healthcare operations, organizational developments, business management and information technology and was the right career path for him.
In November 2002, Mr. Harris continued his healthcare career; he joined the federal government as an Enterprise Systems Manager (ESM) for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). As an ESM, he managed a health care portfolio of management and financial programs totaling more than $600 million. His primary focus was to facilitate the creation and execution of requirements for VHA business and clinical customers. Two years later, Mr. Harris was promoted to the Director of the Enterprise Systems Office. In that role he was responsible for providing direction to a team of senior level enterprise portfolio managers in the evaluation and resolving crosscutting issues that impacted the entire VHA organization. The team, consisting of physicians, nurses, business managers, financial managers, and health data managers, was primarily responsible for creating and executing requirements for more than 200,000 customers in VHA.
In April 2006, Mr. Harris was appointed to the senior executive service as the Deputy Chief Information Officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In his role as Deputy Chief Information Officer, Mr. Harris was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the information technology organization that served the 10,000 members of HUD. He was also responsible for spearheading the modernization of HUD’s business and financial systems that serve thousands end-users. He directed the development and deployment of enterprise products that allowed HUD business users to rapidly develop tools to assist them in accomplishment of HUD strategic and business objectives. In 2007, Mr. Harris was appointed as Acting Chief Information Officer for HUD. During his tenure he guided the deployment of the National Housing Locator, which used geospatial technology to assist HUD in locating housing for citizens displaced due to natural or manmade disasters.
In February of 2008, Mr. Harris joined the Centers for Disease Control as the Chief Management Officer for the Coordinating Center for Health and Information Services (CCHIS). In his role, Mr. Harris was the executive responsible for the end to end operations, and worked in partnership with the academic, scientific, medical and public health professionals in CCHIS and across CDC. On 2010, Mr. Harris was appointed as the Deputy Director of the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (OSELS). In this role Mr. Harris was the executive in charge of operations and management. He also worked closely with the scientific and program executives and OSELS staff in the planning, development and stand-up of the OSELS organization. Mr. Harris also led the implementation of systems and programs that supported the mission of OSELS and CDC. Mr. Harris also played a lead role in the return and integration of human resources back to CDC.
Mr. Harris earned a Bachelor of Art degree in management and communication from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado.