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Curtis Wood

CIO, Massachusetts

Curtis Wood
David Kidd/Government Technology
Curtis Wood started work for the state of Massachusetts in 1975. “Once I’m somewhere, I’m all in,” he said. With the exception of a few years in consulting and academia, Wood’s career in the state has spanned from corrections officer with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) to state CIO, a path not common among tech chiefs. “My skill set is not so much about being a technologist,” Wood said, “but I do well at understanding the mission of the agency and being able to interpret and put it into a technology solution.”

After two decades with the DOC, he saw a need for a better way to track inmate data, so he was made CIO, and over the next several years, his team moved from a mainframe system to client server technology to build the state’s first inmate management system. It’s still in use today

He retired from Corrections in the ’90s, but after 9/11, Wood was lured from the private sector back to state service to build a new department around criminal justice. In 2011, he was named undersecretary for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, where he oversaw forensic science and public safety technology. As an agency head, he liked the decentralized nature of state IT, but when Gov. Charlie Baker took office in 2015, he began to move Massachusetts toward a more centralized structure. When Wood took over as state CIO in 2017, his perspective began to change.

“I felt that it was always a struggle for the central IT organization to fully appreciate and understand the mission at the edge,” he said. But now as a cabinet member in Baker’s administration, he appreciates the ability to be a service provider for agencies. As Massachusetts looks toward a hybrid cloud environment, for example, he helps ensure agencies are ready for a potential move.  

“At some point I realized I’m pretty good at government, and at some points government is as frustrating as anything can be,” Wood admits, “but I always say somebody’s gotta do it."
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.