Takai takes reins as Calif. CIO

Contractors would benefit from improved procurement process

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 served as state CIO for the past four years.

Takai served as director of Michigan's Information Technology Department and state CIO since 2003. During her tenure, she restructured and consolidated Michigan's resources by merging the state's IT resources into one centralized department servicing 19 agencies with more than 1,700 employees. She is well-known throughout the state and local technology community, having previously served as president of the Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State Chief Information Officers. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Takai's appointment Thursday.

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 for 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, but added that it was too soon to know whether technology companies will find it easier to work with California agencies as a result of her appointment. California spends more than $2 billion annually on IT hardware, software and services.

"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.

To succeed, Takai will need to develop a strong working relationship with the state's financial director, as well as the head of the General Services Department, he said.

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

"Unless Teri, in working with the aforementioned department directors, can bring some sense to the state's governance and procurement processes, vendors may not see a lot of improvement in the challenges they have to face in California," Kost said.

About the Author

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

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