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Long Beach Utility CIO Opts to Stay on Post-Cyber Attack

Long Beach Utilities Department CIO Paula Crowell was set to take over as Santa Monica’s CIO Dec. 18, but the far-reaching impacts of a November cyber attack prompted her to reconsider the transition.

Aerial view of downtown Long Beach, Calif.
The city of Long Beach has largely restored services after its main website, network and systems were taken offline Nov. 15 following a cyber incident — but the event has prompted one major personnel change in IT.

In an email statement released Monday afternoon by the city of Santa Monica, its anticipated incoming chief information officer, Paula Crowell, said she will not be joining the city as planned Dec. 18 but will instead remain in her role at the city of Long Beach.

Paula Crowell.jpg
Paula Crowell
“After thorough consideration, I have come to the difficult decision not to join the city of Santa Monica,” said Crowell, who expressed gratitude for the opportunity. “I have shaped my career around being a thoughtful and supportive leader with a strong commitment to the success of my team and the organization I serve. Recent weeks amid the cybersecurity incident in Long Beach have underscored the substantial need for my contributions to the Long Beach Utilities Department and I feel a profound dedication to continuing to serve my team and our Long Beach customers.” Crowell has been manager of Information Services at Long Beach Utilities, which provides water, gas and sewer services to residents, since December 2021.

Statements provided by Lauren G. Howland, Santa Monica communications and public information manager, indicated Crowell has withdrawn her acceptance of the CIO position, which had been announced Nov. 6.

“We understand the unforeseen and changing circumstances that contributed to her decision to stay with the city of Long Beach and respect her commitment to seeing the organization through one of the most challenging times in recent memory,” the city of Santa Monica said in its statement, adding: “We remain committed to serving our community effectively and efficiently with innovative technology solutions and will have more to share in the coming weeks.”

Santa Monica CIO Joseph Cevetello stepped down in May after nearly seven years in the role; eight-year Chief of Staff Christopher Smith has served as acting CIO since Cevetello’s departure. A new CIO recruitment has not yet been announced.

This article was originally published by Industry Insider — California, Government Technology's sister publication.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Paula Crowell's position with the city of Long Beach. That error has since been corrected.
Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.