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Gov. Newsom Reappoints Amy Tong as California IT Chief

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that Amy Tong would continue to lead the state’s Department of Technology. Tong, who was initially appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, has held the leadership position since June 2016.

Amy Tong CA CIO Acad
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday reappointed Amy Tong as state Chief Information Officer and director of the California Department of Technology.

Tong, 46, has been state CIO and CDT chief since June 2016, having served first as acting director after former state CIO Carlos Ramos retired. She was appointed to the top job by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and confirmed by the state Senate the following year. Her reappointment was announced Thursday evening by the governor’s office.
Tong’s tenure at the top of state IT governance has been marked by significant changes in CDT, including an emphasis on cloud technology, a streamlined procurement system, a concerted effort to partner more closely with counties and cities -- and, less favorably, technological problems within the Department of Motor Vehicles for which she received criticism from some state lawmakers. 
Last summer, the state reorganized its IT governance, creating an Office of Digital Innovation -- a name appropriated from CDT and reconfigured under the auspices of the state Government Operations Agency, parent of CDT. 
Tong’s rise through the state IT hierarchy has been steady. She served as acting chief information officer at the State Water Resources Control Board, where she served from from 1994 to 2008. From there, she was named chief of the data center for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), a position she held from 2008 to 2011.
After serving at CalPERS, Tong was named chief technology officer for the State Board of Equalization, where she worked until 2012. From there, she served as deputy director and CIO of the California Lottery until 2014. After that, she was named chief deputy director for the Office of Systems Integration and agency chief information officer for OSI’s parent entity, the California Health and Human Services Agency, a role she held until she was named acting state CIO in 2016.
Under Tong’s leadership of CDT, the state has expanded its career development curriculum, which began with the Information Technology Leadership Academy (ITLA), a flagship training ground for future state IT leaders. That academy has spawned several others under CDT’s Office of Professional Development, focused on such disciplines as digital services innovation, project management, and security.
Tong addressed the issue of security in an interview last month that appeared in Techwire.
“We are in the midst of working with the administration on a data use agreement for all of the Cabinet agencies that would address all of these sensitive personal data issues,” she said. “While that policy side is being worked through, our technology side is gearing up for expanding the data platform to be able to address the exchange of that sensitive data. It’s going back to that human-centered design thinking.”
Several high-profile personnel changes have also occurred under Tong’s watch. Her former second-in-command, Chris Cruz, left the position of CDT chief deputy director and deputy state CIO last year to take the CIO position in San Joaquin County. Richard Rogers, another veteran of state IT service, is now the acting deputy state CIO and chief deputy director of CDT. 
The state’s chief information security officer, Peter Liebert, left the department last year and has gone into security consulting. Vitaliy Panych is now the acting CISO.
Tong, an Elk Grove resident, earned a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento. She’s active in civic organizations and is a member of the California Northstate University Board of Trustees, the NAACP, the Asian Pacific State Employee Association, and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association. She has also served on the Elk Grove Planning Commission. 
Tong is paid $197,797 per year, and she does not declare a political party affiliation.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C.
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