Varn keeps Iowa CIO post

Richard Varn, who some weeks ago doubted whether he would retain his post

as Iowa's chief information officer, was confirmed by a 39-8 vote in the

state Senate Monday.

He will continue to head the state's Information Technology Department,

which was created by statute last year by the state Legislature. Before

that, IT was a division of the General Services Department.

Varn, who was attending a conference for chief information officers

in Austin, Texas, when the vote occurred, said he was pleased with the outcome.

"I've been on the job for two years and two months, and it's going to continue,"

he said.

Several weeks ago, Varn said he wasn't sure that he had the two-thirds

majority needed for confirmation in the 50-seat state Senate. He said a

local taxpayers' group, Iowans for Tax Relief, lobbied against him because

of a policy stance he took as a Democratic legislator more than a dozen

years ago.

Several Republicans also raised questions about Varn's spending practices,

namely an $850 purchase of two stationary bicycles for his staff. At the

time, Iowa Senate President Mary Kramer, a Republican, dismissed the notion

that Varn's confirmation rested on the purchase of the bicycles. She said

no one questioned his qualifications to lead the department, but she said

several senators did question the department's path.

Varn said the Iowa Legislature has been "strikingly absent" in regard

to technology issues and welcomed more input from lawmakers. "Without a

partnership with them, we are not going to get anywhere," he said.

Twenty Republicans joined 19 Democrats to confirm Varn.

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