Atlanta's New Tech Leader Is County School District CIO

The city of Atlanta announced that its new chief information officer is Gary Brantley, who has held the same job for nearly seven years at DeKalb County Schools.

by / September 14, 2018

More than eight months after its technology leader decamped for New York City, the city of Atlanta has found his replacement.

On Sept. 14, the city of Atlanta announced its new chief information officer will be Gary Brantley, the CIO of nearly seven years at DeKalb County Schools, the nation’s 26th largest school district in a county that includes about 10 percent of Atlanta by geography. He replaces former CIO Samir Saini, who left Atlanta at the end of January to become CIO of New York City. Brantley's appointment will be effective Oct. 8 according to a news release.

Brantley, pictured at left, is chief technology adviser to the DeKalb County Board of Education. He also manages day-to-day operations and support for around 118,000 users at 147 school-related sites, and a $160 million annual budget.

Atlanta's new CIO is also a finalist for the 2018 CIO of the Year award from the Georgia CIO Leadership Association, the city said. In 2017, Brantley was named one of the Premier 100 Technology Leaders for 2017 by Computerworld; and in 2015 he was named one of the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers by the Center for Digital Education.* Reached by Government Technology via email, the incoming CIO referred a reporter to a spokesman at Atlanta City Hall. A member of the mayor’s communications team declined further comment.

In a news release, however, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appeared to allude to the March ransomware cyberattack against the municipality, indicating the city had sought a technology leader with the ability to do far more than just run an IT shop.

“Managing the city’s technology infrastructure effectively is not only critical to our ability to deliver quality customer service to residents and businesses but, as we learned firsthand earlier this year, to our ability to run an efficient government,” Bottoms said in a statement. She thanked the city’s current Interim CIO Daphne Rackley, its deputy CIO who was temporarily promoted, for working “diligently to get our systems back online and to identify the best path forward to full recovery.”

Brantley started his career at IBM, moving to MCI Corporation as its operations manager, then to the state of Ohio, where he was director of IT at the Department of Aging for nearly eight years. His varied, high-level resume may serve him well as he leads technology in a city that is home to the nation’s busiest airport and still fortifying itself from what is widely considered one of the most noteworthy ransomware cyberattacks to be leveled against an American city.

Atlanta partnered with federal and private-sector partners to rebound quickly, pivoting within a week to focus on restoration. But the effects of the cyberattack — which temporarily limited police to producing handwritten reports; reduced such processes as inspections and scheduling to being done manually and by telephone; and required inmates taken into custody by the Department of Corrections to be handled with manual tickets — lingered for months and may cost the city as much as $17 million, despite the initial ransom demand estimated at around $50,000 in bitcoin.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

Theo Douglas Staff Writer

Theo Douglas is 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.

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