by Tracy Mayor

Profile of Thomas Jarrett, Delaware Secretary of the Department of Technology and Information and CIO

May 01, 20032 mins

Age: 51

Salary: $133,660

Previous job: Worked at Verizon in Delaware for 30 years, holding the position of director of government, education and philanthropy affairs for the last six years.

Took the job in September 2001 because: Intrigued by challenge and opportunity. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, with whom Jarrett had developed a working relationship while he was in Verizon’s office for government affairs, won legislative approval in May 2001 to create a new IS organization that would be outside the civil service system. In August 2001, Minner asked Jarrett if he’d be interested in the new cabinet-level CIO position. Jarrett said yes. “I had a chance to come in and handpick and hire an entire organization with a new market-based compensation plan and run it like a business.”

Technology challenge: Maintaining critical systems and making data center upgrades while simultaneously building a new organization. And developing standards that provide the highest level of customer service at the lowest possible cost.

Management challenge: “The budgeting process is very, very different from the private sector. It’s been a learning process to go through the hearings, testify before the general assembly, and figure out the differences between state funding and federal funding, and special funding versus general funding.”

On the pay cut: “You don’t come to these positions for the money.”

His future: Fulfill his commitment to his governor, including a possible second term, then perhaps retire.

Take-away: “This is a great opportunity to hone your communication skills. You’re not just talking to people in your company all day. It’s the legislature, your peers in state government, agency heads, the press, citizens?a very diverse group of people.”