Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday named Gopal Khanna to his Cabinet as the first State Chief Information Officer (CIO), effective August 15, 2005. Khanna, 55, a resident of Edina, Minnesota, recently served in the administration of President George W. Bush where he held several positions including CIO and CFO of the U.S. Peace Corps in Washington, D.C.

"Citizens demand and deserve more and better service from their government," Governor Pawlenty said. "By creating this commissioner-level cabinet position and with Gopal's exceptional leadership, we are now ready to take next steps to more strategically employ technology across all of state government and live up to our citizen commitment."

The appointment of the State CIO continues Pawlenty's internal government reform agenda known as the "Drive to Excellence" which began in September 2004. As a result of the "Drive" effort, in April of this year, Pawlenty issued executive orders to reform the state's information technology, grant management, purchasing, licensing, building codes, and property management operations.

The position of state CIO, which reports directly to the governor, was created to provide leadership for state government's information and telecommunications technology resources and policies, as well as to have a member of the Cabinet to serve as the principal technology advisor to the governor. The position pays $120,000.

Through internal restructuring, Khanna will now lead the newly created Office of Enterprise Technology, with a budget of $83 million and staff of over 300. Minnesota state government is estimated to spend $600 million per year on information technology through 66 different agencies, 1,000 networks and operates over 500 Web sites.

"The vision Governor Pawlenty has set before me is to improve government service through cost-effective use of technology," Khanna said. "I feel honored and humbled to have this opportunity to serve my state, and am looking forward to working with my colleagues to further the governor's reform agenda."

Khanna is credited with leading major reforms at the Peace Corps. He was responsible for successful implementation of standardized computing platform for the agency's 72 posts worldwide; design and implementation of an enterprise architecture program which serves as the framework for the agency's systems modernization strategy; and transformation of financial management systems.

Khanna resides in Edina with his wife Anjali and two children. Prior to his service in the administration of President George W. Bush, Khanna was in the private sector where he held several senior executive positions in information technology, operations, and management consulting. Khanna has a B.A. in economics, mathematics, and political science from Christ Church College in Kanpur, India, and holds an M.B.A. from the University of Maine.