Philadelphia to get CIO

Philadelphia officials announced recently that the city has joined the growing number of municipal governments in creating the position of chief information officer.

Dianah Neff, former CIO and deputy city manager of San Diego, will take over Philadelphia's CIO position, which comes with cabinet-level status.

"The opportunity was one where I could really bring my past experience to the forefront," Neff said. "Mayor [John] Street wants a citywide IT strategic plan. He wants to make this post cabinet-level, and he really wants to address governance issues such as neighborhood development, the digital divide and e-governance. He really wants technology to be a main part of these."

Neff said her many past experiences made her right for the Philadelphia position, in particular her work on San Diego's Digital Cities initiative under former Mayor Susan Golding.

Howard Stapleton, the acting CIO for San Diego, said Philadelphia will gain from the move because "Philadelphia has further to go than most West Coast cities."

"They're going to benefit from getting someone like Dianah, who has such experience with the strategic planning if IT departments," he said.

According to recommendations from Street's information technology transition team, the CIO will report directly to the mayor and provide technical guidance to the newly formed Information Technology Governance Committee.

The ITGC's cabinet-level officials — responsible for reviewing projects, determining priorities, allocating IT funds and setting citywide IT standards — will be complemented by CIOs from other agencies.

"What we're trying to do with this is leverage the best of both words — the centralized and the decentralized," Neff said. "With the numerous organizations and agencies involved, we have the openness and plurality of a decentralized system but also the cost-effectiveness of a centralized system."

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