January 7, 2010 By Matt Williams
Virginia will have a new secretary of technology as officials attempt to sort out the state's troubled $2.3 billion IT services and management contract with Northrop Grumman.
On Wednesday, Gov.-Elect Bob McDonnell appointed Jim Duffey, a longtime private-sector IT executive and former vice chairman of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, to the Cabinet post. Duffey is president and CEO of Duff Consulting, which he founded after 24 years working for Electronic Data Systems Corp., where he held various executive-level positions.
In Virginia's governance structure, the secretary of technology reports to the governor, while the CIO reports to an independent panel called the IT Investment Board.
Reportedly that could change soon after McDonnell takes the governorship next week. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, McDonnell is in favor of changing the chain of command so that the CIO, a post currently held by George Coulter, also would report to the governor and be put under the technology secretary. Term-limited Gov. Timothy Kaine stated publicly last summer that he would support similar changes.
Kaine's comments came after the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) was embroiled in controversy when the IT Investment Board dismissed former CIO Lem Stewart after he tried to withhold a $14 million payment due to Northrop Grumman because of cost overruns and inadequate service.
Virginia's 10-year $2.3 billion IT outsourcing deal with Northrop Grumman is the largest and costliest among state governments. A legislative audit released in October was critical of its performance, saying that it was behind schedule and disrupted key services.
Northrop Grumman has since submitted a corrective plan to improve the project's performance, and is working with Coulter on changes. The company announced Monday, Jan. 4, that it will move its headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, D.C., area, which would put it close to the VITA offices.
Calls to VITA for comment on Duffey's appointment weren't immediately returned Thursday.
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