Former California Highway Patrol Chief Information Officer Reginald Chappelle left his administrative post after 7 years working on the department’s IT policies and projects, returning to the field with several success projects and a new planning philosophy under his belt, he said in an interview with Techwire.net.

Before taking his position as CIO, Chappelle served as Assistant CIO for 2 years and many years in the CHP’s IT shop, he said. In his 5 years as CIO, Chappelle said he worked on several big projects that should be finished this year.

California Highway Patrol Chief Reginald Chappelle Photo: www.chp.ca.gov

The biggest project, he said, was a radio system refresh for the radio system used by the CHP. The system had not been updated in “at least a couple of decades,” according to Chappelle, but were replaced and upgraded in the support systems and CHP vehicles.

“We’re still using an analogue [radio system], but all the equipment that supports it has been upgraded to digital,” he said, adding that replacing the entire system with digital would have come with a $3 to $4 billion price tag. Instead, the project, set to finish in September, came in $56 million under the $500 million budget, according to Chappelle.

Another $36 million project scheduled to finish in August will replace the CHP’s computer dispatch systems, a project usually completed every 10 years, Chappelle said. Lastly, a project to replace handheld citation devices to write citations and send data electronically to the court system met with a halted project started by the California Judicial Council.

The Council stopped deployment of a statewide case management system in March amidst budget constraints. The CHP, through a separate grant, in September began 200 using handheld electronic devices in the field with the hopes of submitting data to the new management system. When the Council’s project was pulled, Chappelle said the CHP continued with their project and sending data to individual courts instead of a statewide database.

“We were about 98% done as far as working out the data transfer to the courts, so we’re going to continue,” he said. “We’ve been sending data to the four courts…we’ll just keep doing the model that we’ve been doing.”

With several successful projects in the works, Chappelle left his position as CIO in January and made a lateral move to return to the field under the title of Chief, he said. CHP Assistant Chief Scott Silsbee took over the CIO role upon Chappelle’s departure. Chappelle said that, in addition to the projects, he hopes he left a structure behind.

“That was really what I wanted to establish was having a good process in place for IT projects,” he said, stressing the importance of long-term planning that will let government get ahead of projects and preventing the “same old way” that government can function when attempting new projects.

“What really drove [the success of the projects] was having those good processes in place and holding people to them,” Chappelle said.