David Garcia, Maryland's CIO and secretary of the Department of Information Technology, confirmed to Government Technology on Jan. 9 that he will be stepping down effective Jan. 31.
Appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan in February 2015, Garcia said in a farewell message Sunday night to Maryland staffers that while the decision was tough to make, he has found it increasingly difficult to balance his work and private lives, which has taken a toll on his family.
"I have witnessed first-hand this agency blossom from a 'go with the flow' mentality to one focused on innovation and a renewed desire to succeed," Garcia wrote in the letter. "Your commitment to change this agency for the better has been nothing short of inspirational to me, and I'd like to think I was part of the impetus behind this agencywide cultural shift."
Among his proudest accomplishments, he said, were an increased focus on customer service, tracking metrics and performance — some in areas the state hadn't previously measured — working to streamline state procurement, and moving from a federated to an enterprise process for IT services.
"Our last numbers were 97 percent to 99 percent approval (ratings) for a support call," Garcia told Government Technology, noting that Maryland, which now asks customers via email to rate the state's performance, hadn't previously done so — so officials lacked any metrics in this area.
In 2016, Maryland won first place for its state portal in the Best of the Web awards, a program run by the Center for Digital Government, sister organization to Government Technology.
During his nearly two years as secretary and CIO, Garcia said that in an effort to shorten delivery times, focus on customer service and eliminate bottlenecks, the state has brought an agile methodology to bear in application development.
Maryland also has changed procedures to work more closely with vendors, said Garcia, who brought a vendor's perspective to the position of secretary given his position as founder and former CEO of NMR Consulting, once called one of the U.S.’ fastest-growing companies by Inc. magazine.
During his tenure, Maryland instituted so-called "vendor outreach days" at least once per quarter in which potential vendors could meet officials to discuss the RFP process and do business with the state in an open forum.
"I think I brought a different perspective and a different focus, knowing what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table and hear arbitrary terms and conditions," Garcia said. "I think bringing focuses like that helps change our perception."
But after nearly two years of renting an apartment in Maryland where he lived four days a week, and commuting home on weekends to his wife and teen daughter, Garcia said it was time to focus on family.
"I go home on weekends and I play husband and dad, and so that’s been going on for quite some time," he said, adding that he has no immediate plans following his resignation. He did say, however, that it's "likely" he could return to Virginia-based NMR Consulting, which he described as a full-service IT shop with federal clients.
"I know there may be other opportunities out there for me," he said. "But for now, I’m going to take some time to spend with my family and decompress a bit, and make sure my family’s okay."