California Gets First Cabinet-Level CIO

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appointed California’s first statewide, cabinet-level CIO.

Schwarzenegger created the post in August, establishing the Office of the State Chief Information Officer as a cabinet-level agency with statutory authority over technology policy. Teresa “Teri” Takai, former CIO of Michigan and the director of the Michigan Department of IT since 2003, was appointed Dec. 12, Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement.

“Two years ago, I introduced my Strategic Growth Plan to rebuild and improve California’s crumbling infrastructure. But, our state’s infrastructure isn’t limited to the physical roads, bridges and levees that need repair. We also have to expand and improve California’s technology to meet our future needs,” Schwarzenegger said in the statement.

“Teri is the perfect person to do that. She has over 30 years of experience in this field and possesses the vision necessary to make our great state a leader in the effective use of information technology.”

California, with an annual technology budget of several billion dollars and one of the largest technology purchasers in the world, will be a bigger challenge for the former Michigan CIO. Michigan is known for a more hands-on government than California, where CIOs have traditionally had little authority. The state went as far as to shut down its technology office five years ago after a licensing agreement was approved with Oracle without weighing competitors.

The AeA, a technology industry group which sponsored the bill which created the California CIO position, said the post will have the authority to promote state-wide technology solutions and establish a unified technology program throughout state agencies.

“AeA actively pursued this piece of legislation because the high-tech industry believes an empowered State CIO will have the ability to make California less risk averse where buying technology is concerned,” said Roxanne Gould, senior vice president of California Government and Public Affairs said in a statement. “Given the sheer size of California, and its tradition of enacting path-breaking legislation, we are very excited to have been the impetus for this milestone accomplishment.”

Like other cabinet posts, California’s CIO is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor’s cabinet. Takai is a Democrat; Schwarzenagger is a Republican.

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