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Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes to Stay as Gov. Starts Second Term

Tarek Tomes, who was appointed by Minn. Gov. Tim Walz in 2019, will stay on to lead Minnesota IT Services in a cabinet-level position. Tomes is one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers.

Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes
David Kidd/Government Technology
Fresh off an electoral victory, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday a flurry of reappointments and vacancies for his state’s cabinet leadership. Commissioner of Information Technology Services Tarek Tomes was reappointed to Walz’ cabinet, meaning that he will continue to serve as the state’s chief information officer.

Tomes was first appointed in the spring of 2019, a few months after Walz himself took office. Prior to joining the state’s leadership, Tomes had served stints as the chief innovation officer and chief information officer of St. Paul, Minn., the state’s second-largest city.

During his time as head of Minnesota IT Services (MNIT), Tomes has led an effort to modernize state systems and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the mandates of MNIT as Tomes entered its leadership was to replace the state’s long-troubled vehicle registration system. The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System was built in-house in 2017 and faced trouble from the day it launched.

Tomes oversaw the implementation of a system from FAST, which has similar contracts with several other states. The transition has gone well, with Tomes praising the benefits of using a proven system.

Staying true to his roots in the innovation space, Tomes’ department launched the Office of Transformation and Strategy Delivery in 2020, which has developed a “modernization playbook” for updating the state’s systems and practices.

“An old technology stack means old business practices as well,” Tomes told Government Technology at last year’s National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference in Seattle.

Government Technology named Tomes one of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2022.

The majority of Walz’ cabinet is made up of reappointments from his previous cabinet. He said the group will help him carry out future plans for Minnesota.

“I’m grateful to our entire cabinet for their years of service to Minnesota,” said Walz in a press release announcing the lineup for his new cabinet. “Together, we made historic investments in education, achieved the lowest unemployment rate of any state in history, and protected the health and safety of Minnesotans. I look forward to building the team that will help us kick off our second term.”