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Tennessee CIO Steps Down

Richard Rogenehaugh, the nation's highest-paid state CIO, will be succeeded by Bill Ezell.
Amid delays in a major state health-care IT project known as TennCare, Tennessee CIO Richard Rogenehaugh, the highest-paid state CIO in the nation, has left government service. His replacement, Bill Ezell, will not earn anywhere near the $230,000 a year Rogenehaugh had been paid.

Rogenehaugh's exit this week was by mutual agreement with the administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen. The departing CIO was named by a Republican 10 months before Bredesen, a Democrat, took office in January 2003.

Bredesen said it was time for a change. "A substantial upgrade in the quality of what we do with information systems in this state--the way we mange information-systems projects--is very much needed," Bredesen was quoted in The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper. "We are at the moment still seeking to finish a TennCare implementation project that was supposed to be finished last September. Sometimes when that's the case, it's best to change horses--and try to find some new leadership."

Computer services firm EDS had been awarded a $60 million contract two years ago to implement TennCare, which was slated to become operational last fall. That start date was moved several times. The Tennessean cites a TennCare official as saying the system could be operational as early as July.

The Bredesen administration and Rogenehaugh didn't see eye to eye on the role of IT in state government, says a spokeswoman for finance commissioner Dave Goetz, the CIO's boss. The Republican administration envisioned the IT unit as a quasigovernmental entity; Bredesen wants it to remain within the finance department because the primary function of the IT unit is to support executive-branch operations, the spokeswoman says.

Rogenehaugh, one of the highest-paid Tennessee government managers, could not be reached for comment. In a press release he issued, which was posted on the Web site Public CIO, Rogenehaugh listed among his top accomplishments construction of a state-of-the-art cybernetwork operations and security center and approval of funding for an enterprise-resource-planning system to replace more than 120 aging finance, procurement, and human-services systems.

How much Tennessee will pay new CIO Ezell, a veteran state employee who oversaw systems development and support, has yet to be determined. "He took the job without negotiating a salary," the spokeswoman says. "But it will be much less than what Rogenehaugh was paid."