San Antonio Bids Farewell to Its First Innovation Officer

Jose De La Cruz will join the San Antonio Water System on Dec. 3 as the organization’s new program delivery manager, using his tech and innovation experience to manage an automated meter infrastructure initiative there.

San Antonio's Chief Innovation Officer Jose De La Cruz has departed the city for a role with the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

This marks an end to a six-year stint doing tech and innovation work with the city that began as a senior performance management specialist in 2012, before becoming an innovation manager briefly in 2016 and then being named innovation officer in March of that same year. De La Cruz will join the drinking water and sewage utility as a program delivery manager Dec. 3, said agency spokesperson Anne Hayden.

In his new role, De La Cruz will be tasked with managing an automated meter infrastructure (AMI) initiative, drawing from his tech and innovation experience with the municipal government to develop and conduct a pilot study before implementing the new technology. This marks the second stint for De La Cruz with SAWS, after he served as a customer service supervisor and manager with the organization from 2007 through 2012.

“Jose’s experience at both SAWS and the city uniquely qualify him for this new role,” Hayden said. “[Automated meter infrastructure] will touch many areas both within SAWS and across the city, and will require thoughtful planning and a great deal of coordination to successfully implement the program. We look forward to Jose joining our team.”

De La Cruz oversaw San Antonio’s office of innovation in recent years as it began to develop into somewhat of an ascendent entity in the municipal gov tech and innovation field. In his time there, the city built the framework for growing smart city work. De La Cruz also oversaw the creation of CivTechSA, which is essentially a partnership between the city and a local co-working space that aims to bridge the gap between the public sector and startup entrepreneurs. It was somewhat of a local facsimile of the now-international Startup in Residence Program.

Wider culture change in terms of coordinating with local startups began under De La Cruz’s watch as well. In fact, in August the city partnered with local startup Cityflag to launch its new 311SA app.

When reached via email Tuesday, San Antonio Assistant City Manager Maria Villagomez described De La Cruz as “instrumental in building our SmartSA Program,” before congratulating him and wishing him luck on his future endeavors. De La Cruz was San Antonio’s first innovation officer.

Brian Dillard, formerly the city’s smart city administrator, has been named as the city's interim chief innovation officer.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine