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These 5 Key Stories Marked 2021 and Will Shape 2022

2021 was a year of pivotal change in tech leadership at the state and local levels. A look back at the headlines in California public-sector technology may reveal more about the future of the state’s IT governance than about the past.

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“Year in review” stories are, by nature, fraught with pitfalls: They’re subjective, they have a short shelf life, they change nothing, and they’re usually written by pundits, not players.

Having said that, a look back at the headlines in California public-sector technology may reveal more about the future of the state’s IT governance than about the past. 2021 was a year of pivotal change in tech leadership at the state and local levels. These are the observations from the sidelines, not from the field, and from a journalist, not a technologist. With that caveat, herewith are what I consider the five most significant stories of 2021 in California technology.
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Amy Tong
State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong left her role with the California Department of Technology last month, moving to the directorship of the Office of Digital Innovation. Tong’s tenure as state CIO and CDT director ended in a sprint, with her lieutenants focusing on technology to track and increase COVID-19 vaccinations and expand broadband access to underserved regions and communities. In her new role, Tong is seen by some as a “bridge” between CDT and ODI, both of which come under the Government Operations Agency. And she leaves CDT in the care of acting state CIO Russ Nichols, an award-winning veteran of state IT leadership who was named chief deputy director and deputy state CIO in March, and Liana Bailey-Crimmins, another award-winning state IT leader who was named the state’s chief technology officer, also in March.

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Rick Klau
New leadership in CDT’s Office of Enterprise Technology started with the appointment of Google alum Rick Klau as state chief technology innovation officer (CTIO). Klau, appointed in February, quickly brought a private-sector perspective to CDT’s C-suite by staffing key roles with a blend of public- and private-sector professionals: fellow Google alum Phoebe Peronto as deputy CTIO; veteran state technologist Michael Cave as state chief product officer; Jeff Barrett, who has public- and private-sector experience, as the state’s transformation and digital stabilization chief; and Greg Fair, another ex-Googler, as the state’s digital identity chief.
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Rob Lloyd

Some high-profile CIOs from key California counties changed hats in 2021, including former Los Angeles County CIO William Kehoe, who’s now Washington state CIO; former San Mateo County CIO Jon Walton, now in the private sector; former San Joaquin County CIO Chris Cruz (former deputy state CIO under Tong), who also joined the private sector; and former San Jose CIO Rob Lloyd, promoted to deputy city manager. All four of these leaders guided their departments through the start of the pandemic, and the departure of all four creates opportunities for a new crop of leaders at the county level.

Miriam Barcellona Ingenito
Miriam Barcellona Ingenito
The Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal) crossed a “milestone” with the long-sought introduction of virtually every department of state government into the state’s massive digital ledger. FI$Cal Director Miriam Barcellona Ingenito cheered the accomplishment over the summer – and then pivoted to replace her CIO (Subbarao Mupparaju), her chief information security officer (former CISO Gerard Laygui) and her chief deputy director (Neeraj Chauhan), all of whom moved to other departments once the milestone was reached. The new players are CIO Toquyen Collier, CISO Ken Ketsdever and Chief Deputy Director Jennifer Maguire.

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Vitaliy Panych
The permanent appointment of Vitaliy Panych as state chief information security officer – a role he held in an “acting” capacity for two years – gives CDT another seasoned leader in a key role. Since his appointment in January 2021, Panych has taken on a more visible public role through participation in tech forums and industry conferences. He also got a bigger assignment in 2021 as the state shifted much of its oversight of information security away from departments and agencies and to CDT. With that change came a $20 million budget bump from the state budget to offset the cost of those new responsibilities.

Looking ahead at 2022, expect to see continued migration between the public and private sectors – and the fresh thinking that it will likely bring to both realms.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.