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Cook County, Ill., Hires Its First Chief Data Officer, Considers a New CIO

Cook County, Ill., the nation's second-largest county, has identified a finalist within its ranks for its next chief information officer, and hired its inaugural chief data officer.

The nation’s second-largest county is one step closer to filling out its technology bench, after experiencing a key departure last month. Cook County, Ill., has identified a finalist in its search for its next CIO and hired its first-ever chief data officer.

On June 27, longtime Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle nominated the agency’s Deputy CIO Tom Lynch as its next CIO, according to Joel Inwood, public information officer at the Cook County Bureau of Technology. If confirmed by two county entities, Lynch would claim its top technology job — held through June 15 by Simona Rollinson, who stepped down as CIO to join Chicago-based design-build company Clayco.

Cook County CDO Dessa Gypalo
Meanwhile, the county’s inaugural CDO, Dessa Gypalo, started on June 11. Previously, she had concurrently been director of data services at campaign tech provider NGP Van and at EveryAction, a company specializing in resources for nonprofits, since September 2015 according to her LinkedIn profile. At the county, Gypalo will be in charge of its data portal and data analytics program.

With Rollinson as acting CIO, Cook County undertook a slate of multimillion-dollar agency system transformations, awarding IT contracts totaling $154 million for updates in integrated justice, property and revenue systems and for a multi-department enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. But the ERP and a modern biometric time and attendance system, Inwood said, had both been spearheaded by Lynch.

“He was named deputy CIO last year and the enterprise resource planning project — that’s his,” Inwood said, noting that the ERP replaced a variety of different county systems — some of which were still paper-based — in departments ranging from benefits to human resources. The modernization will cost $70 million over the life of the contract. The final wave of the ERP, expected to come as soon as later this month, will be a full integration of its new single sign-on function.

“There’s one version of the truth, which is really big for us. We have a lot of separately-elected offices with their own autonomous IT systems, so to have everybody on one system is really big for us,” Inwood said. Lynch’s nomination will be considered by the county’s Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee later this month, and by the full Board of Commissioners on July 25.

Theo Douglas is news editor for Government Technology. He was previously assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news.