State CIO exodus begins

Two high-profile state chief information officers left office this month.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who was re-elected in November, has fired Richard Varn, the state's chief information officer for the past four years and the leader of its Information Technology Department, along with five other agency heads.

Larry Singer, Georgia's chief information officer and head of the Georgia Technology Authority, announced he would resign Dec. 9, possibly the first of many state CIOs to leave their posts following the election of 22 new governors this month.

In Georgia, Sonny Perdue, a veterinarian and former state legislator, upset incumbent Gov. Roy Barnes, who appointed Singer to the CIO post more than two years ago.

In his Nov. 25 resignation letter to Barnes, Singer said: "While we had discussed my staying on until this coming spring, with the recent election, the demands on the financial resources of my family and the opportunity for me to serve the interests of the nation at large, I feel that now is the appropriate time for me to leave state service and return to the private and/or not-for-profit sector."

In Iowa, Varn said Vilsack told him that technology would not be a high priority this year. Instead the governor said he would focus on economic development, education and health care.

"He can't support the things we want to do and he wants to spend his political capital on those three things," said Varn, who said leaving was a mutual decision.

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