C-level changes in state technology sometimes follow on the heels of election cycles, but the departure of one of Massachusetts’ top tech officials comes nearly six months before voters will decide whether to grant its governor a second term.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito jointly announced on May 11 that Mark Nunnelly, Massachusetts’ inaugural secretary in its Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS), will be moving on after less than a year at the helm. Nunnelly, who joined the new Baker-Polito administration in March 2015, was first its commissioner of revenue and the special advisor to the governor for technology. He oversaw formation of EOTSS in August 2017.
His departure is planned seamlessly, with Nunnelly leaving effective June 18, to be replaced by incoming Secretary Curt Wood. Wood has served as the state’s undersecretary for forensic science and technology within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) since April 2011.
At EOPSS, Wood was responsible for giving leadership and oversight to agencies including the state crime lab and forensic services group of the state police, the office of the chief medical examiner and the state 911 department. He most recently led the transition of the state’s 911 system from legacy to next-generation 911, a more enhanced and robust platform.
It remains unclear why Nunnelly is leaving, although the Boston Globe reported that the 25-year former Bain Capital executive intends to spend more time with his family. Brendan Moss, Baker's press secretary had not yet responded late Friday to questions from Government Technology. Nunnelly won plaudits from Baker, who pronounced his leadership “instrumental in ensuring our digital presence is secure and responsive to the needs of our constituents,” in a statement.
“We are grateful for Mark’s service to the Commonwealth in a variety of roles, and for his willingness to take on challenges that affect every corner of state government,” Baker said, welcoming Wood’s “knowledge and many years of experience.”
“Secretary Wood has taken on a variety of complex projects over the last three years that have led to a more secure and efficient operation of the Commonwealth’s technology services,” Polito said in a statement.
Nunnelly called his time in the Baker-Polito administration one of the “truly exceptional experiences” of his career, in a statement.
“The talent and dedication of the leaders and teams that I have worked with throughout this administration is exceptional and inspiring,” he said, indicating “great confidence” the team will thrive under Wood’s leadership.
Almost since his arrival at Massachusetts, Nunnelly was a force in state IT. He moved on from the department of revenue in March 2016 to become executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Information Technology (MassIT), tasked with helping deliver more consumer-friendly IT services — a catch-all that included everything from improved licensing to easier tax filing to fielding questions on health-care services.
In a statement at the time, Baker called it “an important step that not only addresses some of the problems we have, but is an essential way forward to a better future,” and it quickly became clear Massachusetts meant business.
In an interview in September 2016, Nunnelly said the state had to do more to understand business processes and how to change them, rather than simply throwing technology at the problem. Among the state’s priorities, he said then, was redesigning its website, Mass.gov, an initiative that began around that time and encompassed pilots, user research and public feedback.
"I think most of our content and most of the look and feel was probably established in the late '90s or early 2000s," Nunnelly said then.
In June 2017, standing on the state constitution, Baker proposed reorganizing state IT to “improve data security, safeguard privacy and promote better service delivery” — an act his administration said amounted to “re-establishing the Massachusetts Office of Information Technology (MassIT) as EOTSS.”
At EOTSS, Nunnelly led a variety of “transformation efforts” aimed at making the state’s IT platform more secure and digitally oriented, the state said in a news release. These included the launch of the new Mass.gov website, migration of the executive office data network to a single, more secure and monitored network, migration of online unemployment insurance to an ugraded Web service for faster claims processing; and consolidating telecommunications and hardware purchase contracts for a $20 million savings.
In its news release, the state indicated more than 76 percent of Massachusetts residents now "interact with government online," more than through any other medium.