Kanavas relishes the problem-solving aspect of government and takes great pride in his business background. "When a person encounters a problem with government, they feel as though the deck is stacked against them because they are facing such a large bureaucracy," he said. "My position enables me to navigate the system from the inside and help them out."
-- Jim McKay, Justice Editor
J. Clark Kelso
California's Turnaround Specialist
After two successful stints as a turnaround expert at troubled state agencies, it's no surprise J. Clark Kelso was asked to be interim CIO of California in early 2002.
He already resurrected the state's Department of Insurance after a scandal that included the resignation of the department's commissioner. That was followed by then-Gov. Gray Davis nominating Kelso to lead the California Earthquake Authority, which was being investigated by the Bureau of State Audits.
Kelso took over as interim CIO just a couple of months before California's Department of Information Technology was allowed to wither on the vine by legislators, who didn't pass legislation extending the life of the troubled agency. Kelso had no IT agency and no statutory authority. He's said in past interviews with Government Technology magazine that having no regular CIO trappings actually worked in his favor.
"There are two things at this point I'm most pleased about," he said. "We've made such substantial progress on consolidation of our major data centers, and we're very close to the very formal statutory consolidation. We've made an enormous amount of progress in getting the two data centers to work together.
"The second is the publication of our state strategic plan for IT," he said. "That was the result of a nice 18-month process that wrapped up in November/December last year. We probably had 50, 60 people who touched the document itself, plus a bunch of others who were, in essence, providing support in decision-making over the last 18 months."
Getting to this stage required Kelso to do plenty of what he says he's good at: "boundary spanning." These talents are put to good use in his other title as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Special Adviser on Information Technology.
There's a reason Kelso is one of a handful of Davis appointees kept on after Schwarzenegger's regime change: He has managed to bring the beginnings of cohesion to IT in California's executive branch, which is no mean feat.
"In an organization as large as California state government, you don't do this by dictating results," he said. "You do it by respecting people's views and listening to them, and them respecting your views and everybody beginning to develop a consensus and a realization about what is best for everyone, even though it, at times, requires some individual sacrifice.
"It's the basic problem of collective action."
-- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor
A New Breed of CIO
Simone Marstiller, appointed CIO of Florida in May 2004, doesn't hide that she's not an "uber geek," believing she's part of a trend toward state CIOs without hardcore technology backgrounds.
"The greatest thing about this job is that I work for a man who believes passionately that we -- government -- can do better," Marstiller said. "It's inspiring, and bringing the state closer to achieving the governor's vision is my one and only goal."
Her political and managerial skills were tested immediately in the CIO post. Marstiller got the job after the previous CIO resigned and the