The state of Nevada has named Michael Dietrich as its new CIO and deputy director of administration, snagging him from the private sector where he previously served as a senior technology leader for a number of years.
Dietrich, who officially joined the state’s Department of Administration on April 2, was introduced to its employees earlier this week. He replaces Shanna Rahming, who stepped down in February after three years as the top technology officer for the state.
In naming Dietrich as CIO, Nevada is also taking the opportunity to add the CIO position to the deputy director of administration role. In carving up the previous responsibilities of the CIO, the day-to-day operations of Nevada’s Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS) department will now fall to David Haws, who has served as EITS interim administrator since February and will report to Dietrich.
Dietrich is tasked with developing Nevada’s high-level technology strategy and statewide policy, as well as coordinating those technology efforts with federal, state and local governments.
“I purposefully selected a state CIO with a strong private sector background to help guide us through this digital government transformation,” Patrick Cates, Department of Administration director, said in a statement. “Digital transformation is a road well-trod by the private sector and the state will be well-served by Michael’s experience and leadership.”
Life Before Becoming Nevada’s CIO
Prior to joining the state of Nevada as CIO, Dietrich served as a senior manager at LinkedIn, where he led an engineering team for one year. His move to LinkedIn followed a six-year career as director of systems engineering with Microsoft’s Mediaroom, which was later acquired by Ericsson. While there, Dietrich gained valuable experience working on the divestiture of the company to Ericsson, such as overseeing the source code remediation process to identify, catalog and isolate all transferred intellectual property, to then taking the lead role in change management, Dietrich told Government Technology.
That task not only involved working with various groups to move them toward building a cohesive strategy but also non-technical aspects such as working with architects and contractors to create the new workspaces and campus planning.
“With the Mediaroom business and sale to Ericsson, the groups had disparate ways of doing things and did not want to give up control of their own direction and infrastructure. I was not so much a chief planner but a chief diplomat,” Dietrich recalled.
Ranking Nevada’s IT Priorities
With several weeks under his belt in the new role, Dietrich says it will be three to six months before a more definitive strategy emerges. But from a high-level view, he said there are some definitive areas he plans to tackle.
“Cybersecurity is top of the list,” says Dietrich. Last year, Nevada's governor signed a bill to create an Office of Cyber Defense Coordination within the Department of Public Safety.
Another top priority is setting a strategic direction, says Dietrich, adding that the effort will broadly encompass consolidation and co-location of data and a cloud strategy at a statewide level.
He noted a lot of state agencies have groups on legacy systems and over the months to come he will be talking with their groups and ascertaining whether it makes sense to move them along to different tiers of data and storage management.
The tiers can range from disparate small- to-mid-sized data centers spread out across the state to storing information at the state data center, which is the first consolidation tier. Co-locating the data center to an operation like Switch would be tier 2, while storing the data in a pure cloud setup would fall under tier 3.
“There may be unique circumstances where you don’t want to change tiers,” Dietrich says. “I want to move the path forward but not put roadblocks in. I like to think of it as guardrails that gives people flexibility.”
He added he also has aspirational goals of making the state’s services more accessible. That is a similar view of Cates.
“Now is the opportunity to move from traditional IT as a backoffice function to a digital government transformation where government deploys advanced technology in a nimble and cost-effective way to meet the needs of its citizens,” Cates said.
As one example, Dietrich cited the transformation of the Nevada State Library and Archives’ contents into easily searchable and user-friendly information.
Public to Private to Public Role
For Dietrich, the move to the public sector is a familiar one. After college, his first full-time position was teaching computer technology and graphic communications courses at a Nevada community college for five years.
He was later recruited by Microsoft to join it as a network engineer in Reno, Nev. Twenty years later, Dietrich is returning to the public sector as CIO for a state he has considered home for the past three decades.
“I have always had a desire to serve and help others,” says Dietrich. “The stars have aligned and now I can give back to this place I call home.”
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify information on the state's data storage strategy as well as the status of the Nevada State Library and Archives' digitization project.
Dawn Kawamoto is a technology and business journalist, whose work has appeared in CNET's News.com, Dark Reading, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance and The Motley Fool.