Elections spell turnover for CIOs

When voters in 36 states go to the polls this month to elect governors,

most of the successful candidates will be new to the office. Their election

likely will spell turnover among many of the state chief information officers

and possibly changes in technology policy.

Although CIOs generally stay out of the political limelight, many must

now have the political skills to advocate technology projects, deal with

lawmakers in a bipartisan fashion and engage the vendor community, but also

reflect their administration's policies.

How the CIO role has changed and how some could make a successful transition

to a new administration is the subject of an upcoming handbook that the

National Association of State Chief Information Officers is publishing.

It also was the subject of a recent panel discussion of government officials

who successfully survived several gubernatorial transitions.

Uncertainty abounds when a new administration assumes office. CIOs and

their staffs need patience and should focus on a few key projects that will

interest new governors, said the panel at NASCIO's annual conference in

St. Louis Oct. 30.

Former Nevada CIO Marlene Lockhard, who has been through three transitions,

said reputation and credibility are important when dealing with the legislature

and political parties.

Lockard, who is now vice president of e-government strategy at EzGov

Inc., said she had a basic track record, a good relationship with the legislature,

constant communication with key legislators and achievements she could point

to that helped her gain clout on both sides of the aisle and with different

administrations.

Pennsylvania CIO Charles Gerhards agreed that officials should be people

of principle and point to results. "Unless you have integrity, you're going

to be viewed by many people as dispensable," he said.

Texas CIO Carolyn Purcell said officials also could obtain some skills

as a "chameleon," meaning they could accommodate the particular style of

the new administration and leader, but also keep intact their core values

and principles.

The panel agreed that the biggest mistakes CIOs make during transitions

are not being proactive, failing to understand the politics involved, and

not understanding how to get recognition and credit for their accomplishments.

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