Software executive George Coulter was named the CIO of Virginia on Thursday, Aug. 20.

Coulter replaces Lem Stewart, who was fired two months ago by an oversight board of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) after he threatened to withhold payment to Northrop Grumman because of performance problems associated with a $2.3 billion outsourcing deal of the state's IT services.

Coulter has broad experience in the private sector, having worked in various technology posts for big companies like PepsiCo and Citigroup, among others. His most recent position was chief technology officer of Solera Holdings, a software and services company for the auto insurance claims processing industry. He was CIO of AES, an electrical utility operations company, from 2003 to 2007.

Virginia's CIO is overseen by the state's Information Technology Investment Board.

"George's extensive experience with global IT integration in highly complex environments is a tremendous asset to the commonwealth," said the board's chairman, James McGuirk, in a press statement. "He is a strong leader, with a deep understanding of IT infrastructure and enterprise applications, and I am confident in his ability to keep Virginia in the national technology forefront."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last week that the Information Technology Investment Board had narrowed its list to three candidates with public-sector experience, including Steven Cooper, the former CIO of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That report turned out to be inaccurate, as the board opted for Coulter's private-sector background.

Some lawmakers have slammed VITA's effectiveness in recent weeks and complained the deal with Northrop Grumman is costly and inefficient. Most recently, VITA reported a $6.2 million budget deficit. Stewart told the oversight board in June that his agency was unable to fully pay the contractor, which he said was "not meeting [its] contractual obligations," and that its invoices to the state are documented insufficiently.

Coulter begins as CIO on Monday, Aug. 24. He was not yet available for comment.

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor