The Honorable James M. Byrne currently serves as an independent consultant, senior advisor and independent corporate board member. He was appointed and later confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on August 28, 2018. He retired from federal service on February 3, 2020. As the Deputy Secretary, he led modernization initiatives and worked closely with the Secretary as the chief operating officer leading operations of the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department, with some 385,000 employees in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, national cemeteries, and other facilities throughout the country.
Previously, Mr. Byrne served as VA’s General Counsel, leading VA’s nationwide team of nearly 800 attorneys, paralegals, and staff who support VA’s mission and priorities by providing sound legal expertise, representation, and, as needed, critical problem-solving skills and risk-management advice to the Secretary and other senior VA leaders.
Before arriving at VA, Mr. Byrne served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer at Lockheed Martin Corporation, where he was also the company’s lead cyber and counterintelligence attorney. He served for several years on the board of directors for Pacific Architects and Engineers. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Mr. Byrne served in the career Federal Senior Executive Service as Deputy Special Counsel with the Office of the United States Special Counsel, and as both the General Counsel and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Soon after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mr. Byrne was recalled to active duty for 18 months with the U.S. Marine Corps in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Lieutenant Colonel James Byrne was assigned as the Officer-in-charge of the Marine Liaison Office at the then-National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Byrne led teams of Marines in DC-metro-area military hospitals and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, that were responsible for supporting injured and deceased Marines, Sailors, and their families.
Mr. Byrne has over 25 years of experience in the public sector, including service as a forward deployed Marine Corps Infantry Officer and a U.S. Department of Justice international narcotics prosecutor. Mr. Byrne’s professional honors include several DOJ awards and The Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator’s Award for Exceptional Service. He is also a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism and several military decorations, including the Meritorious Service Medal.
Volunteering in his community, Mr. Byrne has extensive experience on several non-profit and advisory boards. Until August 2017, Mr. Byrne’s most recent professional engagements included service on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Board and the International Association of Privacy Professionals Board of Directors. For ten years, Mr. Byrne volunteered on the Executive Board of Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that has developed national networks of volunteer professionals capable of providing complimentary and confidential mental health services in response to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society, beginning with the mental health needs of post-9/11 veterans, service members and their families.
Mr. Byrne is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received an engineering degree and, ultimately, held the top leadership position of Brigade Commander. Mr. Byrne later earned his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida, and started his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Malcolm J. Howard, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina.