Udaya Patnaik

Almost one year after opening recruitment, the state Government Operations Agency (GovOps) has named the first director of its Office of Digital Innovation.

Udaya Patnaik, 46, will lead the developing office, which uses agile, iterative methodology to promote digital innovation across departments and agencies of state government.

“I’m honored and excited to be selected by Gavin Newsom as the first director of the California Office of Digital Innovation,” Patnaik said in a comment on his LinkedIn profile. “Now more than ever, we must improve digital services to help all Californians.”

ODI describes its mission as working “collaboratively with state agencies to improve digital services for Californians. Our work will include early-stage research and prototyping for new projects as well as independent counsel and advice on existing large projects.”

Patnaik is an entrepreneur, having co-founded Jump Associates in 1998, for which he serves as senior partner and chief financial officer. The San Mateo-based firm, which does business in 16 countries, focuses on technology disruption, data privacy and security, growth and innovation, and social impact and sustainability. Before co-founding Jump, Patnaik was rural development specialist at the Rural Community Assistance Corp. from 1995 to 1998.

Patnaik is also an editorial advisory board member of TEDMED, an international advisory board member of Fundación Chile, and a member of the boards of KABOOM! and Just Human Productions.

State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong, director of the California Department of Technology, welcomed Patnaik’s appointment in a statement issued to Techwire:

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Udaya to California’s digital team. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him to advance our shared mission of bringing innovative solutions that improve state operations,” said Tong, whose CDT also comes under the GovOps umbrella.

“The California Department of Technology is excited to continue building on its work to modernize the state’s platforms, services, and utilization of emerging technology tools,” Tong added. “We stand ready to partner with the Office of Digital Innovation on its focus of user-centered design to improve business processes and delivery.”

Patnaik’s portfolio at ODI will be Alpha.ca.gov, a tech strike team under GovOps that works with various departments on special projects. On its website, Alpha said: “Director Udaya Patnaik is working to build a road map for transforming how California thinks about users and how digital services can improve lives.”

In a story last May about the recruitment, Techwire reported: “GovOps and the governor’s office have high expectations for ODI’s first director. The job description, accessible from the ODI page of GovOps’ website, says whoever is chosen ‘will build a world-class team, create the culture, build the institution, and deliver real results,’ as well as ‘become the de facto community leader and convener of innovators across the state.’”

Patnaik’s salary will be $197,700, and his appointment does not require confirmation by the state Senate.