Daniel Hatton has been the CIO of Orange County -- the second-most populous county in California -- since January 2003. He's also one of four county deputy CEOs, positions created by the county CEO as part of government reorganization.

As deputy CEO -- similar to a Cabinet-level position in state government -- Hatton is directly involved in the county's nontechnical inner workings. Previously he was a vice president and director of Science Applications International Corp., and prior to that he was CIO of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Living in Orange County also lets him catch a few waves on his long board.

Is your job evenly split between deputy CEO and CIO?

It can take an enormous amount of time -- there are peaks and valleys -- and it's really a challenge of balance between the two roles. We have 28 agencies here in the county -- that includes John Wayne Airport, 18,000 employees, and between a $5 billion and $6 billion budget. We're like a Fortune 500 company, at the very least, in terms of size.

How does the "deputy CEO" title change your status as CIO?

It puts a lot of authority, as well as responsibility and accountability, into the CIO position, as well as the deputy position. I would not hesitate to say that [county] CIOs I've talked with in California are very envious of that role. I'm also very quick to explain to them that it's not just the title -- there's a lot of work that goes along with it. I don't get an extra person. I can't clone myself.

How does being a CIO of county government compare to your experiences in the private sector and the U.S. military?

County government and even state government are much more under the microscope than the federal government or Department of Defense. We get a lot of scrutiny, especially at the county level, that is more intense than in the federal or Department of Defense arena. The fact of the matter is you only have so many people who can look over your shoulder, even at the federal level, whereas there can be concentrated efforts by the news media or constituents at the county level.

I find the intensity of what goes on at the county level, and the dynamics that go on at the county level, very different. It's challenging, as well as rewarding. I think it's a good thing, but you have to be a very flexible person.

Why a preference for the long board when you're surfing?

Because I'm a product of the 1960s. I surfed Huntington Beach in high school. I was a long boarder, and it just stuck. I also have a short board, but quite frankly, I'm not real good at it. But I'm pretty good on a long board even now.

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor