Texas CIO Karen Robinson Announces Retirement

Robinson announced her departure in an internal email, in which she called her time at DIR “intense and challenging.”

by / October 14, 2014
Karen Robinson, CIO, Texas Jessica Mulholland

On Oct. 14, Texas CIO Karen Robinson announced that after five years with the state's Department of Information Resources (DIR), she will retire on Dec. 31.

Robinson, responsible for reorganizing the DIR’s executive staffing and leading a data center consolidation contract valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, announced her departure in an internal email, in which she called her time at DIR “intense and challenging.” However, she wrote, “thanks to your hard work, innovative thinking, and dedication, we’ve accomplished a lot together, and I’ve completed what I was tasked to do."

Robinson pointed to some successes during her tenure, including the agency’s award-winning data center services initiative, voice and data network upgrades, technology education programs, and the state’s website, Texas.gov.

Robinson also alluded to difficulties faced during her time with the state, perhaps recalling the state’s troubled $863 million data center consolidation contract with IBM. After several complaints from the agency that IBM was not meeting critical milestones in the seven-year contract, the relationship was eventually severed in 2010. Robinson then launched an 18-month rebidding process using a services integrator model, and signed a nine-year $848 million contract with Xerox.

Robinson said in a statement that her position was one of a steward of some of the state’s most critical resources. “Our team has established a culture of listening to the voice of the customer — our fellow state agencies in particular — to create relationships of special trust. I believe we have shown that collaboration and communication form the bedrock of success within state IT,” she said.

Robinson also has been an advocate of creating an inventory of the state’s technology infrastructure to assist state leadership in making decisions. On Oct. 1, Robinson's agency released a Legacy Systems Study showing that more than half of the state’s mission-critical systems are in need of replacement or upgrade.

The lack of support for modernization could expose the state to a higher degree of security risk and increased expense to address technical issues with the systems. And the state sees millions of attacks on its infrastructure each month, Robinson said earlier this month, noting that although data breaches are rare, whomever is charged with leading the agency in 2015 will have a big job ahead in modernizing the state’s systems, which run more than 4,000 applications for businesses across the state organization.

This story was edited at 7:55 a.m. on Oct. 15 to reflect that Karen Robinson is an advocate of the Texas Legacy Systems study released on Oct. 1.
Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.