California CIO Teri Takai, one of the highest-profile leaders in state and local government IT, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), according to a White House statement Monday, March 29.

Takai's expertise on IT consolidations -- she led statewide efforts in California and Michigan -- appears to be a good fit for her new role at the DoD, which has several consolidation initiatives planned, including the deployment of a single e-mail system and network for the U.S. Army. Takai's official title at the Defense Department will be Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information Integration.

Over the past few months, Takai's future plans had become an open question. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his final year in office because of term limits. Takai, serving as a gubernatorial appointee, could've been replaced in early 2011 by a new administration.

Steve Fletcher, the CIO of Utah and president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, applauded the DOD's choice and Takai's accomplishments in state government.

"Teri is one of the most qualified CIOs out there right now," Fletcher said Monday in citing her work on consolidation and her prior experience in the private sector. "I think she could make a very large impact, if nothing else, just so that the different military organizations can talk to each other - that's been the {DoD's} struggle for years."

Fletcher, who has served in the federal government as CIO of the U.S. Department of Education, said Takai likely will likely face a different brand of consolidation at the DoD than what she has attempted in state government. He said at the DoD there probably won't be as much focus on consolidating data centers and servers, and more work on consolidating data sources so that information is sharable and accessible within the department.

Schwarzenegger appointed Takai to the state's cabinet-level CIO post on Dec. 6, 2007. In two-plus years, Takai has overseen the beginnings of a massive reorganization and consolidation of California's IT organization -- an effort that's reforming procurement, governance and strategy -- that required the cooperation and collaboration of all state agencies and approximately 130 agency-level CIOs.

When complete, the IT consolidation will save California nearly $3 billion by 2013, according to the state CIO's office.

Under Takai's leadership and with support from the governor's office, California's IT governance was brought under the responsibility of the Office State Chief Information Officer (OCIO) in a "federated" model that gave Takai oversight of major IT projects but left some control in the agencies and departments.

As part of that effort, the state's IT bureaucracy was reorganized so that the OCIO took management of and absorbed the Department of Technology Services - which currently manages two of California's largest data centers -- as well as the Office of Information Security and the Department of General Services' telecommunications division, which manages 911 call centers and public safety radio.

Merging those services was seen as a landmark step for California, which for years had difficulty managing and prioritizing its IT portfolio because IT operations were so decentralized.

With expanded responsibility, Takai and the OCIO initiated a capital planning process for IT expenditures, launched a project management dashboard, streamlined procurement in cooperation with the state's purchasing department, enacted a plan that will drastically reduce floor space of the state's data centers, and developed written policies on a range of issues like open source software and usage of social media.

It wasn't the first time Takai had worked on a statewide IT consolidation. Prior to serving in California, from 2003 to 2007 Takai was the CIO of Michigan, where she led a consolidation that reduced the state's number of data centers from 38 to three and created a centralized IT department.

Before coming to the public sector, Takai worked for three decades with Ford Motor Co. and also held positions with EDS and Federal-Mogul Corp.

She is a past president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and has been named one of Government Technology's Top 25 "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers."

Takai and the OCIO were unavailable for comment Monday.

 

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor