June 10, 2010 By Matt Williams
Maine CIO Dick Thompson is retiring after working for more than three decades in public service.
Appointed in 2003, Thompson currently is the nation's third longest-serving state CIO. Among his many accomplishments, Thompson is perhaps best known for overseeing Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci's IT consolidation initiative.
Thompson's last day with Maine will be July 31. Greg McNeal, Maine's chief technology officer since 2005, will replace Thompson.
Although many governors are term-limited in 2010 -- Baldacci among them -- Thompson said his decision to leave was unrelated.
"I've been around a long time, and was quite frankly thinking about retiring at the end of the administration from public service, but I have a job offer in the private sector that's extraordinary and the time is right."
In 2005, through an executive order, Thompson developed a plan to consolidate the executive branch's IT into a single unit. In the past, there had been as many as 23 IT organizations that were autonomous, according to Thompson. Eventually all the state's 480 IT employees were brought together to work under the Office of Information Technology. With budget support from the state Legislature, Maine was able to consolidate core functions like e-mail and infrastructure, which Thompson said helped improve efficiency and facilitated the sharing of data across agencies.
"It's paid off for us. Slowly but surely it's reducing the cost of delivering information technology," Thompson said, explaining that he believes Maine did its technology consolidation the right way.
In recent years, Thompson has been putting together a new public safety radio network that will be available for use by all state agencies, as well as cities and counties. Under Thompson's leadership, Maine's Web portal has consistently ranked at or near the top of state rankings. Thompson said he also was proud to help institute a project management office that helped produce projects that were on time, on budget and delivered effectively.
Thompson has also worked on middle-mile broadband expansion.
"I see the role [of the CIO] at a policy level continuing to expand," Thompson said, "but I also see CIOs playing a very key role in the expansion of broadband, including the FCC's goals of increasing broadband speed to citizens." CIOs will help catalyze that movement, he predicted.
Thompson received the 2009 Meritorious Service Award from the National Association of Chief Information Officers, given to a state CIO who has exemplified outstanding service, advocacy and leadership in state government.
"Dick has been an innovative leader and a trusted resource within the administration," Baldacci said in a news release. "He is a nationally recognized expert on information technology, and he has been at the forefront of important initiatives including broadband expansion, emergency communications and Maine's award-winning website."
Prior to becoming CIO, Thompson served 12 years as director of Maine's Division of Purchases.
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