Virginia Beach CIO to step down

David Sullivan, chief information officer for Virginia Beach, Va., will step down from that job on June 30 to become the top technology officer for a regional public transportation organization.

Sullivan has spent his entire 32-year public sector career with the city holding various information technology positions until he became CIO in 1999, the year the position was created. But the CIO position had "evolved" from being technology specific to being more of an assistant city manager position requiring more general management responsibilities, he said.

"It needs to be done, but not the kinds of things that I want to focus on personally," he said in an interview.

Sullivan said he toyed with the idea of joining the private sector, but decided to remain in public service and the opportunity arose with the Hampton Roads Transit, which provides bus, trolley and ferry service to a number of communities, including Virginia Beach.

He replaces the former IT director at the transportation organization, who left several months ago. He said the position was re-titled to CIO and he will report to the chief executive officer, an arrangement similar to the city’s management structure. He added that the transit post will allow more of a focus on technology encompassing everything from traditional IT management and backend systems to emerging technologies.

Sullivan said he's leaving Virginia Beach in good hands. His legacy is the technology organization, which has been very successful in attracting private sector experts to work for the city, he said.

"I think we're at the top of our game," he said. "Virginia Beach is certainly looked at as one of the top cities the way it uses technology across all the businesses and the way it’s led in e-government."

He highlighted the city's Web site, which attracts between 300,000 to 400,000 users a month, and development of an IT enterprise that includes traditional IT and cable TV. "Our technology infrastructure is very sound. We have one network. We have the desktop computers that are all managed centrally. I think back 10 years ago and the issues facing then are all gone now," he said.

But he said he's also leaving the city with several major initiatives remaining. The city is building a new emergency operations center scheduled to open next January. He’s been working on that for six years and there are a lot of regional emergency communications efforts associated with it, he said. The city is also in the middle of replacing its tax and revenue systems, the single largest IT application project ever attempted there, he said. That project is about a third of the way done and will take at least another two years to complete.

With Sullivan's imminent departure, city officials have also started discussing whether the CIO's duties should remain the same or change. "We're having those discussions about how to best fill the position because in the CIO world today you have two kinds," he said. "One is more of the traditional IT manager and then you have CIOs who have evolved more up to the business level."

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