After more than two-and-a-half years serving as CIO for the state of Illinois, Hardik Bhatt is leaving for a role with Internet titan Amazon.
Bhatt, who was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in March 2015, led the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) in an aggressive transformation program. He said he will miss the work he does for the state, but that he hopes to continue working closely with the public sector in his new capacity.
“Overall what we were able to accomplish in the last two-and-a-half years under the governor’s leadership … I’m very proud of what we could do in state government,” Bhatt said. “Not too many state governments take on this kind of a massive, comprehensive transformation, and having the governor allow us to do that was fantastic,” he said.
In the short time that Bhatt was at the wheel of state IT, DoIT continued to improve its standing as a leading information technology shop. In 2014, the Center for Digital Government* rated the state a C+ for its overall tech prowess. By 2016, that grade had jumped to a B+.
During that time, the state struggled to find common ground on a state budget, but Bhatt said the governor was always supportive of DoIT initiatives and the role technology plays in the larger government machine.
Though the soon-to-be-former state CIO said he will miss the work he does for Illinois, his new Amazon role will afford him the opportunity to continue serving governments and their citizens.
“I am going back into the private sector, but will continue working with the public sector. That has always been my passion. For the last 20 years, I have been working on both sides but with or in the public sector … to continue to provide the solutions that the public sector is looking for, something that makes impact to the lives of citizens,” he said.
Bhatt’s last day in state service will be Sept. 14, at which time state Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Kirk Lonbom will step in as acting CIO. Lonbom was appointed to the DoIT CISO position in August 2015 and has been an instrumental part in securing the state’s digital assets, Bhatt said.
*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.