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The Club of 50: Data on State Chief Information Officers

Who are the people leading technology in state government? What career paths do they come from? How long do they stay in position? We gathered data for 206 state CIO terms going back to 1994 to find out.

by / June 3, 2019
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The Hot Seat

Common wisdom has held that a new governor typically means a new state CIO. But exactly how much of a sure thing is it? In other words, how often does a CIO "survive" a transition to a new governor?

It turns out to be about one-third of the time. It's a little less likely for a CIO to "survive" when the governor's seat changes parties, and a little more likely when it goes to a new member of the same party, but the differences aren't huge.

Because of this regular turnover, the average state CIO tenure isn't too high. We found that the average CIO stays in office for three years and six months. Included in this calculation is interim and acting CIOs who stayed in that role for at least a year.

The longest-serving CIO we found was David Litchliter. Litchliter served as CIO of the state of Mississippi for a staggering 17 years, from 1994 to 2011. His term spanned the administrations of three governors, the early days of the World Wide Web, the introduction of the iPhone and the birth of bitcoin. His successor, Craig Orgeron, has also enjoyed a longer tenure than most — he has been serving for about eight years and counting.

Aside from Litchliter, we found five other state CIOs that served for at least 10 years: Denise Moore (Kansas, 13 years, 1996-2009), Otto Doll (South Dakota, 14 years, 1996-2011), Brenda Decker (Nebraska, 10 years, 2005-2015), Mark Bengel (Tennessee, 11 years, 2007-2018) and Greg Zickau (Idaho, 15 years, 2004-present).

The shortest-serving CIO we found was Jim Mann. In 2011, it took incoming Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback more than 10 months to name a CIO, and his choice — Mann — stayed in the role only nine days. Shortly after news of Mann's appointment became public, the Topeka Capital-Journal revealed that Mann's resume included a degree from an institution known as a "diploma mill." Brownback publicly defended his CIO, but nonetheless Mann submitted his resignation.

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Ben Miller Associate Editor of GT Data and Business

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.

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