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Jonathan Ozovek Stepping Down as Virginia COO, Deputy CIO

Following the recent exit of Virginia CIO Nelson Moe, the private-industry veteran focused his time as chief operating officer on shorter, more flexible contracts for state agencies as well as better customer service.

A month after the departure of Virginia's chief information officer, another technology leader for the state is stepping down.

Jonathan Ozovek headshot.jpg
Jonathan Ozovek, who took over in August 2019 as chief operating officer for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), which provides tech services to 65 state agencies, told Government Technology he is leaving his post. He also has the title of deputy CIO.

His last day will be Feb. 25, according to VITA spokeswoman Stephanie Benson.

Ozovek's exit follows the recent replacement of Virginia CIO Nelson Moe with Phil Wittmer, formerly the chief information technology officer for the state of Kansas, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year.

“I was brought on personally by Nelson Moe in 2019 to turn around VITA and to push a transformation in Virginia which was successful beyond expectation,” Ozovek told Government Technology. “With the new administration, Nelson has stepped down and my exit plan upon arrival was to leave once Nelson did.”

VITA Deputy COO Demetrias Rodgers will become acting COO after Ozovek departs, according to Benson.

Ozovek came to the public agency from the private sector, where he was chief operating officer of GetSwift, a delivery management platform for businesses. His pre-VITA experiences include work with health care as well as financial and technology companies.

During his tenure with state technology efforts in Virginia, Ozovek helped push pandemic-related efforts designed to reduce unemployment backlogs and boost data visibility for public health officials, among other tasks.

Ozovek was also a proponent of the state’s multisourcing services integration (MSI) program, intended to build a marketplace for sellers of government technology that would give state officials more options about what tech to buy and deploy. The model seeks to free state agencies from lengthy state contracts with single suppliers in favor of shorter-term deals designed to offer more flexibility. It also revolves around bringing more private-sector practices into government technology operations.

“I'm extremely proud of our efforts of rapid execution during COVID, dramatically improving the financial health of the agency, designing several 'first-in-the-nation' innovative service offerings, as well as the cultural shift towards a relentless focus on the customer agencies' success, which allowed us to bring services to market at scale,” he said in an email to Government Technology. “The team has come together to embrace interdependency, break down silos and become very mission-focused to execute and deliver business outcomes through technology.”

That said, nothing is certain in the fast-changing world of government technology, including Virginia’s efforts under new leadership. But Ovozek said he’s optimistic about the state’s future.

“As a transformation executive, it is always hard to say for sure if the trend will continue as I was hired to be that change catalyst,” he said. “However, Virginia is in a great spot, and I have mentored and trained a top-notch team, so they are well-positioned for success.”

Ozovek appears likely to return to the private sector, having received “several very attractive … opportunities in the tech vertical,” he said. He also plans to show others how to bring private-sector practices to government technology efforts — work that involves funding and public-agency buy-in.

“I'll be evangelizing those lessons to hopefully contribute to the public good beyond Virginia soon,” he said. “There was a perception upon my arrival that public-sector employees couldn't execute and deliver outcomes the same way they do in the private sector. This team, while mission-oriented, proved that assertion wrong and did outstanding work for the citizens of Virginia.”

Ozovek’s soon-to-be former employer offered praise this week.

“Ozovek has been instrumental in reorienting VITA toward our focus on customer excellence and achieving valuable outcomes for our agency customers,” Benson said. “He’s helped ensure the accelerated transformation of our business model, helped bring innovative services to the commonwealth and greatly improved the agency’s financial position.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.