Oregon hires IT chief

Oregon has snagged Donald Fleming, a well-known name in Fortune 100 information technology circles and most recently the head of the Brookhaven National Laboratory's IT division, to be its new state chief information officer.

His first official day on the job will be Aug. 4.

Fleming worked at General Electric Corp., Allied Signal Corp. and EG&G Inc. before going to the Energy Department's Brookhaven Lab in 1999, where he led efforts to build DOE's high-speed research network.

Moving to a broader role in the public sector will be a challenge, but Fleming said it also presents a more familiar face than it might have just a few years ago, because governments increasingly are looking for commercial solutions to technology problems.

But he feels the public sector is a good fit for someone of his mostly commercial background, because tech companies are currently putting so much effort into government business. Thus, government is the ideal place to learn how to solve many new problems, he said.

Consolidating hardware resources for a dozen departments will be the easy part, he said.

"More difficult will be sorting out the product portfolios and other resources," he said, "how to go from 12 different data centers to just one, while maintaining those things that are unique to the business functions of each department and that can't be addressed by centralization."

One thing that caught his eye during a recent two-day orientation visit to Oregon was the sluggishness of network security. He doesn't yet know if it's due to a lack of knowledge about what needs to be done or simply a lack of need.

Another priority for Fleming will be addressing the need for sharing information and data among agencies, a new requirement that state government organizations are just beginning to go after, he said.

And there's always the question of funding, particularly in a state suffering as badly from budget woes as Oregon.

"We'll have to prioritize much more tightly than before, though it's important to create a sense of progress if you want to keep up morale in an IT organization," he said. "We'll have to learn how to print our own dollars."

Brian Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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