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Massachusetts IT Consolidation Continues Despite CIO's Departure

Massachusetts CIO Anne Margulies is stepping down to become CIO of Harvard. Deputy CIO John Letchford slated to take over as interim CIO.

Massachusetts CIO Anne Margulies won't see the state's IT consolidation through to the end, but the project, expected to be completed by December, will proceed as planned, government officials said.

Margulies has stepped down as Massachusetts' IT chief to take over as the CIO of Harvard University, starting this September. Nearly one year ago, she launched the massive effort to consolidate Massachusetts' 183 data centers, 100 phone systems, 24 e-mail systems and 15 data networks, calling the system a "massive patchwork of technology" too complex to keep secure that created gaps in communication and costly delays when things broke.

With Margulies stepping down, Deputy CIO John Letchford will assume the position as interim IT chief. Letchford will oversee the consolidation's progress until Massachusetts finds a permanent replacement for Margulies, said Cyndi Roy, communications director for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. Margulies could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

"Anne did a phenomenal job while she was here," Roy said. "She worked with the governor on IT consolidation, the Springfield data center and a host of other IT initiatives. Harvard's very lucky to have her."

With the November's gubernatorial races coming up, the situation in Massachusetts foreshadows cases across the country. Many governors are not seeking re-election, and incoming chief executives most likely have their own ideas of who should lead state IT departments.

That means at least 23 state CIOs could be left in the cold. Facing an uncertain future, many CIOs have been trying to figure out how to keep key IT initiatives moving forward in their absence.

"I'm amazed government works at all, given how much turnover there is," Margulies told Government Technology earlier this year. "My governor is up for re-election, and we're quite clear about the fact that our goal is to make sure this is irreversible. We talk about making consolidation CIO-proof and administration-proof."

Her new job will be a homecoming of sorts. Margulies first joined Harvard in 1986 in an IT position, where she oversaw the construction of the university's telephone and data communications network, according to The Harvard Crimson. As assistant provost and executive director for Information Systems, she also restructured the Office of Information Technology to enhance service and address financial issues.

She became the top IT chief of Massachusetts in 2007, following a job at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the executive director of OpenCourseWare, a Web-based initiative that provides free, worldwide access to MIT's course materials.

Under the leadership of Gov. Deval Patrick and Margulies, the IT consolidation plan has been running smoothly, according to IT officials. Patrick already had consolidation ideas in mind back in 2009 when he issued Executive Order 510 to consolidate the state's technical resources and create eight new secretariat CIOs. His decisions laid the groundwork early for state's shift toward what officials hope is a cohesive, more secure IT environment.