Snohomish, the state of Washington’s third largest county, has named a new interim technology leader following the termination of its CIO of nearly three years.

The county has elevated its Deputy Chief Information Officer Lisa Hillman, pictured at left, to interim CIO, effective immediately, after terminating its Chief Information Officer Trever Esko on Sept. 6, Communications Director Kent Patton confirmed to Government Technology.

According to Snohomish County newspaper The Daily Herald, which covers the region, an “outside investigation” determined that Esko’s “courteous and professional” treatment of DoIT staffers had lapsed. He had worked at home since July, the newspaper reported.

“He was an at-will employee and the county executive director determined that we wanted to head in a different direction with new leadership,” Patton told GT when asked the reason for Esko’s dismissal. Patton read aloud a statement, provided on Sept. 6 from County Executive Dave Somers. In that statement, Somers said:

“I believe we need to head in a different direction with new leadership in order to meet the ambitious goals we have set for Snohomish County’s Department of Information Technology. For Snohomish County to most effectively serve our residents, we must have a supportive and productive work environment.” 

The investigation, conducted on behalf of the county by Seattle law firm Ogden Murphy Wallace P.L.L.C., concluded that witness testimony reflected “lapses in respectful and courteous treatment of Department of Information Technology (DoIT) employees” by Esko.

While the investigation noted that Esko had instituted better project monitoring tools, positioning the agency as a more valued resource to other departments, witness testimony said department morale had been on the decline. 

The county, which serves more than 800,000 residents, ranked sixth by population in the Center for Digital Government’s* 2018 Digital Counties Survey in July. Judges complimented its comprehensive strategic plan and shared services model. 

* The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company.