The recent appointment of P.K. Agarwal as director of California's Department of Technology Services (DTS) marks his return to the public sector. In the late 1990s, Agarwal was appointed CIO of the California Franchise Tax Board after serving as CIO at the Department of General Services.
In 2000, Agarwal left the public sector when he was named CIO and executive vice president of e-government applications at NIC, then moving to vice president at ACS in 2003. His current appointment comes on the heels of the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger administration's recent creation of the DTS.
Agarwal holds master's degrees from University of California, Berkeley and California State University, Sacramento.
What do you see as your biggest challenges in 2006?
I like to think in terms of goals. My overarching task is to make the DTS into a cost-effective provider of premier IT services to state agencies. This will require DTS to be an agency that's flexible enough to meet customer demands.
I also want DTS to be the "go to" IT partner for state agencies. I want them to think of DTS first as the partner they can count on to work through difficult matters. I'd like to complete the IT consolidation by the end of 2006 and get that issue behind us, and have a successful implementation of a new state Web portal and the implementation of a statewide e-mail system.
I'd like to leverage the relationship between the Technology Services Board and the DTS to introduce new services ... to help state agencies deliver their services to their customers. I want the DTS culture to be that of a customer-focused organization, one where everyone lives and breathes the fact [that] we exist only because we have customers.
Lastly, as director of DTS, I see my role as champion for use of IT to save state tax dollars, and I will use my position to make that argument whenever possible.
What's surprised you most as you've been consolidating California's data centers?
I've been most surprised by the level of support for this new DTS. We all know a major change can be very contentious and controversial. But I've found nearly universal support here. There was virtually no opposition to the governor's plan for this consolidation and creation of the DTS. The employees are enthusiastic and recognize there will be new opportunities for them. Our customers understand why we are making this change and are looking forward to reaping the benefits. This means I can focus on delivering these opportunities.
What's the biggest difference you've noticed since returning to government IT?
One of the biggest differences I noticed this time, and one that truly concerns me, is the projected loss of senior/key IT staff in the near future due to retirements. We, the IT branch of state government, are addressing this through succession planning -- growing staff internally with professional leadership development through programs like the IT Academy.
But it's troubling if we can't keep pace.