Doug Couto

Senior Fellow, Center for Digital Government


  • Former Director of State and Local Government, Citrix Systems
  • Former Information Officer, Responsible for Enterprise Systems, State of Michigan
  • Former Chief Information Officer, Michigan Department of Transportation
  • Former Chief Information Officer, State of Iowa
  • Former Director of Information Management, Air Force Intelligence Agency
  • Former Chair of the Information Technology and Systems Committee, Transportation Research Board (TRB), National Academies of Science

Key Areas of Expertise:

  • Technology and Transportation
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
  • Public Sector Cloud Computing, Mobility, and Virtualization  
  • IT Strategic Planning and Public Policy
  • IT Leadership, Project Management, and Governance
  • Public Private Partnerships

Doug Couto has more than 35 years in public sector executive leadership roles that includes the US Air Force, State of Iowa (CIO), and the State of Michigan (Information Officer and DOT CIO). When he moved to the private sector (Citrix and Dell), he continued working with state/local governments and education to maximize the benefits of technologies such as virtual desktops, mobility solutions and cloud computing.

As an Information Officer with the MI Department Technology, he delivered information technology services for the Departments of Management and Budget, Civil Service, and Transportation. In addition to the business applications for each department, he operated the state-wide applications for human resources, financial management, public employee retirement, purchasing, electronic grants, construction management, traffic CRASH safety/accident data records, and electronic bidding.

He led the creation of the highly successful State of Michigan Unified Information Technology Environment (SUITE) melding the best project management methods from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) with the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model (CMM).  He and his teams were consistently recognized for exceeding quality, timeliness, and budget expectations receiving five Computerworld Laureate Medals.

As the Chief Information Officer at the Michigan Department of Transportation, he managed a $35 million information technology budget to support a $2.7 billion transportation enterprise with 3000 employees. During his tenure, he raised customer service levels for all IT programs, aggressively installed IT project management processes, created an executive governance structure, and program management system, reduced costs for contract provided services, and adopted best industry practices for IT software development.


He also negotiated an innovative public/private partnership for construction management  software that not only created value for the state of Michigan but encouraged sharing resources, enhancements and adoption by seven other states.  He and his team were recognized for this work by award of the CIO Magazine Value Enterprise Award.

Couto is the past chair of the Information Systems and Technology Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) (2004-2010) were he promoted innovation and technology research to address transportation issues and better manage the Nation’s transportation assets. He formed subcommittees to focus on technology uses for construction management and the best ways to use emerging sensor technologies. He is the Chair, Project Panel 20-96, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), Guidance for Transportation Executives on Planning and Programming Information Investments (FY2014).

He also served as a member of the International Program Committee and speaker for Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress (2010, 2011, and 2013); as a member of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Corporate Leadership Council and Program Committees; as a member of the TechAmerica State and Local Government Board; and, as an International Director on the Board of Toastmasters International.

Additionally in 2005, Computerworld named Couto a Premier 100 IT Executive.

Couto served as an Assistant Professor at Howard University, Washington, DC conducting a two semester junior-level course in leadership, management, and communication skills for the Department of Aerospace Studies.  He later taught a graduate seminar about Information Technology, Public Policy, and Electronic Government at the Western Michigan University satellite campus in Lansing, MI.  

Couto holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa, Masters of Business Administration and Public Administration degrees from George Washington University, and is a graduate of National Defense University.