During the past year, CIOs have cycled in and out of state IT departments faster than Lance Armstrong pedals downhill. Some of this turnover happened when newly elected governors took office and started appointing new cabinet members.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens named Leroy Williams (left) as the state’s new CIO. Williams previously served as CIO of Colorado’s Department of Personnel and Administration. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson tapped Moira Gerety to serve as the state’s CIO. In Georgia last December, Larry Singer stepped down as CIO and executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority, a position he had held for two years. He is one of several of former Gov. Roy Barnes’ appointees who resigned before newly elected Gov. Sonny Perdue took the reins.
Conversely, some of this revolving-door effect has nothing to do with election results and everything to do with state CIOs getting into trouble over conflicts of interest, cronyism and even fraud. Former Utah CIO Phil Windley resigned last December after months of controversy over contracting deals. According to Associated Press reports, the Utah Auditor General Office found favoritism in Windley’s administration. The salaries of five employees?with whom Windley had worked previously at now-defunct Internet company Excite@home?averaged about $12,000 more than the typical annual salary for those positions. Windley said he resigned because he had become “an impediment to implementing e-government.” Last January, former Utah Lt. Gov. Val Oveson (left) replaced Windley as CIO.
In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush tapped Kim Bahrami (right) as state CIO last June. She had served as interim CIO since August 2001 when her predecessor, Roy Cales, resigned after an audit uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable purchasing practices (see “Walk on the Wild Side,” at www.cio.com/printlinks) and after being charged with an unrelated fraud.
As Bahrami was taking office as Florida’s CIO, controversy was spilling over in the other sunshine state. A California state audit revealed that then CIO Elias Cortez was about to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a $123 million, no-bid deal with Oracle to consolidate the state’s purchases of thousands of database licenses that only five of 127 state agencies wanted, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Cortez resigned from his post last June. Three months later, California Gov. Gray Davis named Clark Kelso as the new CIO.
In Arkansas, both the state CIO and chief information security officer, Randall Bradford and Mike Miller, respectively, resigned last June. Several days later, they were officially fired. Bradford and Miller had reported problems with the state’s $52 million information system to the press. The two men claim that Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s office ordered them to block legislators and committees responsible for overseeing the system, and that they were fired for blowing the whistle on the system’s cost. A spokesperson for Gov. Huckabee told the Associated Press that Bradford was fired for not accepting direction from the governor or his aides. Two months later, Gov. Huckabee named Carolyn Osbourne as the new CIO.