Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed former Microsoft software engineer Bharat Shyam to lead the state’s evolving IT organization.

Shyam, who was named state CIO on Monday, Nov. 14, was most recently the general manager of Windows Azure, a Microsoft cloud computing services platform. He began his career with the company in 1993, according to a press statement from the governor’s office. He spent several years as a software engineer working on the Windows operating system and Internet Explorer browser, and also on an early iteration of the smartphone. He is also credited with developing online billing systems for the company, including for the Xbox Live entertainment service.

“Shyam successfully reduced costs of software publishing and servicing, while delivering higher quality and a more agile system,” the statement from Gregoire’s office said about his time at Microsoft.

Washington’s new CIO is joining an organization in transition. In the face of budget shortfalls, Gregoire and the state legislature reorganized and eliminated some state agencies in an effort to find efficiencies. Consequently the state’s Department of Information Services — for years the state’s main agency for technology — was dissolved and replaced, beginning October 1, by three new entities: Consolidated Technology Services, the Department of Enterprise Services and the Office of the Chief Information Officer will now provide technology services and oversight to most of Washington’s departments, offices and agencies.

Officials told Government Technology earlier this year that the new bureaucracy would reduce as many as 70 IT staff positions statewide, achieved partly through attrition. Washington also continues to migrate agencies into a new 50,000-square-foot data center, and state official told Government Technology earlier this year.

Shyam’s first day heading the Office of the Chief Information Officer was Tuesday, November 15. The state CIO’s responsibilities include: providing strategic direction and enterprise architecture for state government; enabling standardization and consolidation of IT infrastructure; establishing standards and policies; and educating and informing policymakers.

“Home to some of the most vibrant IT companies, combined with rapid change in IT and a dedicated state workforce — Washington state has the potential to be the best government in the world when it comes to information technology,” Shyam said in a statement Monday. “I intend to use our state assets – and make our state nimble while delivering the best services to citizens at the lowest costs.”

Washington had been without a permanent CIO for more than a year, since Tony Tortorice resigned in September 2010 prior to Gregoire’s push for government reorganization.