Sacramento County, Calif., didn’t have to go far to find its new technology boss. Rami Zakaria, the chief of e-Government and Business Services for the county’s Department of Technology, was named CIO of Sacramento County on Nov. 15. He’ll start his new position on Nov. 20.
Zakaria’s current duties consist of directing the day-to-day activities of the Sacramento County’s information applications, including its personnel and accounting system, the Criminal Justice Information System, the Secured and Unsecured Property Tax systems, the Budget Development Application, the county’s retirement system and its Internet and Intranet portals.
County officials expect Zakaria’s skills and experience to translate well as CIO.
“We believe Rami’s experience combined with his excellent relationships will ensure continuity of key projects while enhancing the use of technology to improve services to residents, streamline operations and reduce costs,” said Roberta MacGlashan, chair, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, in a statement.
Zakaria has worked for Sacramento County for approximately 20 years, starting in the programming division. Because of his familiarity with the county and its processes, Zakaria didn’t expect the transition to his new post to be difficult.
Some of the first things he plans to tackle in his first few months of CIO include expanding the employee and manager self-service tool the county uses to automate the business processes for county employees and further upgrades to various systems.
“We’re automating a lot of the paper processes regarding employee benefits, time sheets, how you manage your W-2s, basically how you manage your personal profile,” Zakaria explained. “We’re in the process of rolling out an upgrade … that’s our biggest initiative that’s going on.”
He added that the Sacramento County is looking into an e-form solution that would allow county residents to submit various forms online, making communication between the county and citizens more efficient.
The county’s CIO position has been vacant since February, when former CIO David Villanueva left for a promotion within the county. In a nationwide search, Sacramento County received 79 applicants, ultimately selecting Zakaria.
As CIO, Zakaria will manage an operational budget of $50 million and a staff of 231. He’ll be responsible for the activities and operations of the Department of Technology. Zakaria will also fill the role as the county’s chief information security officer.
Zakaria said that what he’s seen is that counties typically treat information security as an afterthought, focusing more on delivering systems and infrastructure. But while wearing two hats may be a lot of work, he believes security should go hand-in-hand with application development.
“I am hoping to bring those two together … so security would be at the forefront of the conversations,” Zakaria said. “It wouldn’t be something we’d have to do at a later point, but it’d be something we would address as we are developing these projects.”