Montana’s top technology official and a key architect of the state’s IT consolidation, will be stepping down, officials confirmed to Government Technology.
Chief Information Officer Ron Baldwin, who was appointed to lead the State Information Technology Service Division (SITSD) by Gov. Steve Bullock in January 2013, will be leaving “for a role outside of state government,” Department of Administration Director John Lewis said in a news release.
Baldwin will be taking a position with Deloitte and his last day will be Jan. 19, according to Amber Conger, communications director for Montana’s department of administration.
Baldwin’s departure comes as the state welcomes Chief Information Security Officer Andy Hanks, a 20-year IBM employee and its now-former global security program manager. Conger said the presence of Chief Technology Officer Matt Van Syckle and the arrival of Hanks, who started work during the week of Jan. 16, will ensure a smooth transition.
“It is a big loss for the state of Montana, to be sure. I think with Ron at the helm over that past few years, we’ve seen so much change and innovation,” Conger said, noting that the state will begin an internal and nationwide search for his permanent replacement.
“We just want to ensure the best fit for the state of Montana,” she added.
Baldwin had previously served as CIO for Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and ascended to state CIO after the retirement of former CIO Dick Clark.
At DPHHS, Baldwin helped ready the state to integrate with the federal health insurance exchange, which Montana chose as its way to implement the Affordable Care Act in 2014.
As state CIO, Baldwin was at the helm following Bullock’s 2016 executive order that consolidated infrastructure at the executive branch level. That convergence, the state said in its news release, has saved Montana more than $1.6 million annually.
Baldwin described that process as “highly efficient” in a conversation with GT last year.
“Agencies won’t own their own equipment, but they will be using the most and sharing the most advanced platforms that we have, which will have security, full disaster recovery capabilities, and a sharing model that allows for a true private cloud approach,” he said at the time.
In a statement on SITSD’s Web page, he emphasized the fluidity of the modern tech environment.
“Today, as new concepts and systems become woven into the work environment, we learn that ‘change’ is constant and to be truly innovative, we must be willing to let go of outdated models and embrace new designs,” Baldwin said.
In a statement, Bullock praised Baldwin’s successes in promoting enterprise-level collaboration, and said the teamwork he fostered with cities and counties, higher education and other statewide municipalities benefited the whole state.
“His commitment to ensuring government was accessible to folks across Montana deserves recognition and he will be missed,” Bullock said.
Conger characterized Baldwin’s focus on collaboration as one of his legacies. “Collaboration and teamwork was a huge part of why he was able to successfully implement some of the initiatives he was,” she said.
Among his other central accomplishments, the state highlighted Baldwin’s work on the state’s transparency portal, the data portal and its business Navigator portal, which ensured citizens and business owners may wield the true power of governmental data.
“It’s been a forefront initiative between the Bullock administration and Ron, to ensure that information is accessible and accurate and available to the citizens of Montana,” Conger said, pointing out the state’s data portal was upgraded in November with new back-end software.
Baldwin also spearheaded implementation of multi-factor authentication to secure mission-critical systems and data; the establishment of a cost-effective, secure, private cloud environment for government; and the use of data loss prevention technology, bringing an additional security layer to sensitive information.
In a statement provided by Montana officials on Jan. 17, Baldwin said serving Bullock, Lewis and the state had been his honor “during this time of great opportunity.”
“Our vision is to be the enabling force that promotes citizen well-being and communities that thrive. Moving forward, I am confident information technology at the state of Montana will continue to serve citizens in the secure, efficient and effective manner they expect,” Baldwin said.
Theo Douglas is a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.