"I'm very proud of this, I believe technology is the catalyst for change" -- Collin County IT Director Caren Skipworth (pictured)

Collin County IT Director Caren Skipworth was named Texas CIO of the year Tuesday at Government Technology's GTC Southwest 2009 in Austin.

As IT director for the fast-growing north Texas county, Skipworth promoted intergovernmental collaboration and provided innovative leadership, according to judges. For instance, she oversaw the creation of a multijurisdictional fiber communication network shared by Collin County, local community colleges and a handful of area cities. She also orchestrated her IT department's relocation from a 24-year-old data center to a new facility over two weekends, using only county staff, saving the jurisdiction $76,000 on the move alone.

"Caren is truly an outstanding individual who looks outside the box to make things happen," said Texas CTO Brian Rawson, announcing Skipworth's selection. "She's worked tirelessly to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of her organization."

Skipworth, who joined Collin County in 1990, said she was honored to win the award and thanked her "talented and dedicated" staff. "I'm very proud of this," she said. "I believe technology is the catalyst for change."

Collin County's fiber network deployment included a deal to share more than 80 miles of unused fiber-optic cable owned by the Collin County Community College District. The agreement cut the network's cost in half, saving the county $1.2 million. The new network also replaced 27 T1 communication lines, eliminating $330,000 in recurring costs, according to information submitted for Skipworth's nomination.