The application process is open for the state’s top data job.
The Government Operations Agency (GovOps) is accepting statements of interest online for the state Chief Data Officer position, which the department announced last month it would fill. The job search will continue until Gov. Gavin Newsom selects California’s second-ever data leader. The position was first held by Zachary Townsend, whose hiring was announced June 30, 2016. Townsend, who stepped down in 2017, is now an associate partner with McKinsey & Co. There’s no salary range specified for the next CDO; because it’s an appointed position, the governor’s office will set the salary. Townsend’s salary was $130,000. Among the takeaways:
• The state’s next CDO will “set the vision for making data a useful strategic asset in service of the public — and catalyze progress,” according to the interest form. That includes leading the creation of strategies to use data to improve programs and policies, both statewide and at the agency level, with a “particular focus” on linking siloed data and driving better outcomes, according to the duty statement. The successful candidate will also champion data-sharing with the public, by “partnering with departments” implement existing policy like open data; and driving new initiatives. He or she will “foster statewide data interoperability and accessibility” by working with others to set standards; and “increase awareness of the power of data and build skills” to support the delivery of new data strategies in partnership with the state departments of Technology and Human Resources.
• The Chief Data Officer will “build and lead a team from within the state initially, and collaboratively propose revisions to existing organizational structures and team compositions to achieve the objectives above,” the interest form said. However, when asked by Techwire whether the CDO would actually stand up a new state data team, agency spokesperson Lynda Gledhill said via email that the CDO “will work with and bring together existing resources in the state.” He or she must have a “clear vision” for how the state can make better use of its data; and be “technically competent or conversant” with data infrastructure, governance — including privacy and security; data analytics and visualization; and be open to new ideas and learning.
• The position’s interest form and duty statement have no major differences from when the job was first filled, Gledhill said. But the percentages of focus on specific duties have “minor adjustments” from 2016. The CDO will devote 35 percent of his or her time to policy and governance, including developing and implementing a strategic state-level plan for data and developing enterprise data policies and standards. He or she will also spend 35 percent of their time working with agencies, including assessing their data literacy and helping create data sharing agreements for non-public data. Both percentages are up from 30 percent in the previous job description. However, the new data leader will spend just 10 percent of his or her time — a decrease of half — on duties including representing GovOps in meetings with legislators and staff and with other state departments; and working with the state library, nonprofits, entrepreneurs and community groups on data. The remaining 20 percent of the CDO’s time will be devoted to work with GovOps, including collaborating on sustainability and “tracking of lean process re-engineering and innovation.”
• Like his or her predecessor, the new CDO will report to the secretary and undersecretary of GovOps. GovOps Secretary Marybel Batjer stepped down Aug. 15 to become president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Undersecretary Julie Lee is filling in as secretary in addition to continuing in her existing role. There was no immediate update Wednesday from the governor’s office on the state’s search for a new GovOps secretary. GovOps is working with Newsom’s office on the CDO hiring process, and “consulted with a variety of entities both in and out of state government” to develop the interest form and duty statement, Gledhill said.