California's new CIO faces uphill battle

California’s new chief information officer Teresa (Teri) Takai faces an uphill battle as she tries to help a state that has struggled historically to manage its vast and varied information technology resources. She replaces Clark Kelso, who was the state's CIO for the past four years.

Takai was director of Michigan’s Information Technology Department and that state's CIO since 2003. During her tenure, Takai restructured and consolidated Michigan’s resources by merging the state’s IT resources into one centralized department serving 19 agencies with more than 1,700 employees. Previously,  she served as president of the Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State CIOs. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Takai’s appointment Dec. 6.

Takai is moving from Michigan, which is known for having strong, hands-on governors who empower their CIOs to be effective, to a state where the CIO has traditionally had very limited oversight authority, said John Kost, managing vice president at Gartner Government and Health Care Research Worldwide.

“Teri has done an absolutely fabulous job in Michigan, and she has the experience, skills and aptitude to do so in California as well,” he said.

“California ..has created a CIO role with very limited oversight authority, especially in an overall structure in which the governor has a considerably overall weaker role than in Michigan, and virtually no operational authority,” Kost said.

California has struggled with IT strategy and oversight over the past decade. Five years ago, state lawmakers shut down the state’s technology office when they learned that then-CIO Elias Cortez and other officials approved a $95 million enterprise licensing agreement with Oracle that was done without competition. When the office’s charter was up for renewal, they chose not to renew it and also canceled the Oracle deal.

A request for comment from NASCIO President and Iowa CIO John Gillispie was not received in time for this story.

William Welsh writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.


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