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State CIOs Head For The Exits

The list of CIOs in state government who have resigned, or are about to, is growing. Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington are losing their top IT execs, and California is on the watch list.

The list of CIOs in state government who have resigned, or are about to, is growing. Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington are losing their top IT execs, and California is on the watch list.The job of state CIO can be short-lived for a variety of reasons. Election years, troubled IT projects, and retirement are common causes, and CIOs in all levels of government tend to move from one job to another. Here's a recap of who's on the way out, and some of the unfinished business they're leaving behind.

Ken Theis last month resigned as CIO of Michigan. The state has been working through an ongoing IT consolidation effort that includes combining systems and data centers, streamlining processes, and merging departments. According to CRN, Theis has joined Dewpoint, an IT solutions provider, as COO. Of note: When Theis stepped in as Michigan's CIO, he took the job vacated by Teri Takai, who resigned to go to California. More on Takai's status below.

Gopal Khanna has disclosed he will be leaving his post as CIO of Minnesota in December. Khanna lasted longer than most state CIOs, having been appointed to the position five years ago. During that time, he devised a 10-year "IT master plan" for the state. Just last month, Minnesota announced what it described as a "historic" agreement to use Microsoft's cloud computing services in support of 33,000 state employees. It's interesting that the CIO would guide a big outsourcing-like contract in Microsoft's direction as one of his last major decisions. No word on where Khanna goes from here.

Tony Tortorice is on his way out as CIO of the state of Washington, just 16 months after accepting the position. Tortorice had his hands full with a controversial $180 million project to build a new data center that would host services for state agencies. According to Public CIO, an executive steering committee has drafted language to create an Office of the CIO and, as it stands, responsibility for the state's Department of Information Services would fall outside of the scope of the CIO.

Teri Takai, the CIO of California, may be headed to a new job at the Department of Defense. Takai was nominated in March by President Obama to become the next CIO of the DOD, but that nomination was pulled amid a reorg of DOD's IT operations. Yet, that doesn't mean Takai won't get the job. As we said two weeks ago, Takai is "still in the running," and Federal News Radio is now reporting that Takai is expected to be named CIO of DOD within weeks.

Don't look to California's chief deputy CIO, Michael Locatis, to step in as the state's new CIO if Takai goes to the Pentagon. Locatis will be moving to Washington, D.C., ahead of Takai, having just accepted the CIO position at the Department of Energy. Remember what I said about the state CIO position being short-lived? It was just five months ago that Locatis moved from Colorado, where was that state's CIO, to California.

Despite (or because of) Governor Schwarzenegger's aggressive IT policies, which include data center consolidation and a major initiative to reduce energy consumption, California has had a hard time hanging onto its senior IT execs. In April, state CTO P.K. Agarwal resigned to take over as CEO of TiE Global, a nonprofit group for IT entrepreneurs.

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