A former Johnson & Johnson executive has taken charge of information technology at the State Department, filling a position that had been vacant since late 2017.

Stuart McGuigan became the State Department’s permanent chief information officer March 25, succeeding Frontis Wiggins, who left in December 2017 to join aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman . Mr. McGuigan oversaw tech strategy and operations as CIO at Johnson & Johnson for the past seven years.

Karen Mummaw, a career foreign-service officer who served as acting CIO over the past year, plans to retire in April, agency spokesman Robert Palladino said.

As CIO, Mr. McGuigan leads the Bureau of Information Resource Management, which provides tech services across the State Department. The agency has an annual IT budget of roughly $2.2 billion.

Ex-Johnson & Johnson CIO Named State Department IT Chief

Stuart McGuigan Photo: Johnson & Johnson

“Every aspect of the department’s information technology capabilities and operations now falls under Stuart’s oversight, including architecture, infrastructure, cybersecurity, data management, software and application development and acquisition,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in remarks read by Mr. Palladino.

At Johnson & Johnson, Mr. McGuigan led efforts to shift the company’s on-premise IT systems to subscription cloud services provided by Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and NTT Communications Corp., moving more than 500 terabytes of data.

Under his leadership, J&J in 2015 began working with International Business Machines Corp.’s Watson cognitive computing platform on early experiments in applying artificial intelligence to health data, aiming to develop a virtual health-care coach for patients. He left J&J in March.

Mr. McGuigan was previously CIO and senior vice president at CVS Caremark, a pharmacy-benefit manager operated by CVS Health Corp. , and earlier held the same posts at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group.

His move to the State Department comes amid tech-leadership changes at a number of federal agencies.

The Transportation Department in February named Ryan Cote, a former Gartner Inc. executive partner, as CIO to succeed Vicki Hildebrand, who left in December.

In March, the Central Intelligence Agency named former naval officer Juliane Gallina as its new CIO, succeeding John Edwards, who continues to serve as deputy chief operating officer. Earlier in the month, the Interior Department brought in Bill Vajda, formerly CIO for Alaska’s state government, as its IT chief.

The White House has proposed cutting total State Department spending by 23% in the year ahead.

Despite the proposed cuts, which target diplomatic and aid programs, efforts to modernize the agency’s IT infrastructure remain a priority, Mr. Pompeo said in March.

The State Department accounted for roughly 2% of total federal spending on IT in fiscal year 2018, or roughly $1.8 billion, according to the White House budget proposal.

Write to Angus Loten at [email protected]