But labor forces have voiced staunch opposition to the plan and are trying to block Gov. John Rowland's appointment of Regan to the CIO post.
A flurry of activity has left both his permanent appointment and the outsourcing initiative on hold, according to those familiar with the controversy.
During a special session that ended shortly after midnight June 26, Regan's opponents attempted to introduce legislation mandating that the CIO have a master's degree in computer science - a degree which Regan, an engineer by training, lacks. That amendment failed but the special session failed to resolve any of the issues.
In legislative chambers, rumors spread that Regan and the Rowland administration had already hand-picked a contractor for the outsourcing award, even though the bidding process is far from complete, Regan said. The labor union has submitted one of four proposals to be prime contractor for the seven-year, $1.4 billion outsourcing effort.
Regan is now acting CIO and his permanent appointment awaits approval by state lawmakers during the next session in February.
"It was brutal what we had to go through here,'' Regan said. "People knew I was going to be CIO. ... The unions made it very personal. They attack me anytime they can. To them, the governor is looking to do nothing more than commit the biggest act of political patronage in the history of Connecticut.''
While developments in Connecticut remain among the more acrimonious in recent memory, it's clear that state and local governments large and small are marching forward with the creation of CIO positions. Often, the recruited CIO is bringing a significant amount of federal government experience to the job.
"A lot of the political and organizational issues are quite similar,'' said Les Hearn, who stepped into the position of Maryland CIO after serving for five years as director of information resources management for the Maritime Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. "That makes it a bit easier to get into the mix and be productive. The learning curve is not as steep as it would be for someone outside of government services.''
Connecticut, New Mexico, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Maryland have either created a CIO position since September 1996 or established a similar job role, according to interviews and a survey by the National Association of State Information Resource Executives in Lexington, Ky. Roughly half of the U.S. states have a CIO or a person who acts in that high-level capacity with respect to information technology policy, according to officials at Federal Sources Inc., a research firm in McLean, Va.
Although each government will define the position to suit its own needs, the CIO essentially centralizes the position of authority over information technology policy, providing clear direction for agency officials as they make technology purchases. The CIO reports to the heads of government directly, as opposed to being buffered by an agency director.
As more and more governments seek interactive state intranets to provide online services to taxpayers, the CIOs are often key in guiding the state, city or county in that direction. For example, Hearn said Maryland will be able to launch electronic real estate license and car license tag renewal applications, among other initiatives, with a more unified sense of purpose under a CIO. In addition, he's encouraging a stronger business plan for agencies to tackle year 2000 computer fixes.
"The real value of a CIO is that you have a foot in business,'' said Mike Hale, who has served as Georgia's first CIO since June 1995 and once worked as a technical adviser for the U.S. Army. "You're not just a technician in the data center. You're looking at how to make the business model work and how technology can be found to make it work.''
Industry leaders say that is why people like Regan should not be singled out for their lack of formal information technology training. Many CIOs don't have hard-core, technology backgrounds.
"CIOs are not technicians, necessarily,'' said Thomas Davies, vice president of consulting for Federal Sources. "They're business leaders. They're launching initiatives in procurement reform and outsourcing. They're integrating the technology within the state government enterprise.''