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Boston Mayor Appoints Former IT Chief of Staff as Interim CIO

Former Boston Innovation and Technology Department chief of staff Alex Lawrence returns to city government — and to the department — as interim CIO on the heels of David Elges’ departure.

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Courtesy of Alex Lawrence
Alex Lawrence will become interim CIO of Boston on Nov. 29, the city confirmed in an email to Government Technology. The appointment follows on the heels of former CIO David Elges’ Friday announcement that he was departing amid a mayoral change.

Lawrence is taking temporary leave from her job at public sector-focused digital services provider Bloom Works LLC to assume the post, and the office is a familiar one — she previously spent seven years in the city’s Innovation and Technology Department (DoIT), she told GovTech. That includes two years as the department’s chief of staff where she worked alongside the CIO and focused on creating digital services as well as "data and analytics, improving the city's technology infrastructure, and ensuring that all residents and employees of Boston have access to the technology and digital tools they need," according to her LinkedIn.
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Courtesy of Alex Lawrence
“I've seen [the department] go through a whole host of transitions, and I also understand how critical the services that DoIT provides [are],” Lawrence said.

Among Lawrence’s responsibilities will be leading the search for a permanent CIO, after which she’ll return to Bloom Works, she said.

“I’m coming in on an interim basis to ensure that operations are not just functional but thriving,” Lawrence said. “My goal is to allow Mayor [Michelle] Wu to achieve her incredibly ambitious and exciting agenda.”

Technology is key to several of Mayor Wu’s campaign goals. As a candidate, she had promised to mitigate digital equity concerns such as by closing racial gaps in who has access to reliable Internet, as well as create a committee intended to ensure the city uses technology in ethical ways and adopt a city-level Green New Deal.

Lawrence said technology is essential to enabling city leadership to bring their ideas into action.

“I truly believe technology underlies literally everything a leader could possibly want to do, from how they communicate their message to the tools they use to do their job,” Lawrence said.

Organizations have been struggling to retain talent and that issue is amplified in the public sector, where government employees can feel burdened by factors like requirements to work in person, she said.

“I think really building a 21st-century workforce means making some policy changes,” Lawrence said. “My big challenge as CIO is to figure out, really, how do we get the best-in-class people to understand and be excited about the incredible impact that is working for the city?”

Lawrence’s past 11 months at Bloom Works have also given her a glimpse into the vendor’s perspective, and the struggles that small businesses go through competing for government contracts, she said. The lengthy process — combined with city governments’ reputations for paying late — can be a heavy burden on smaller firms and a roadblock in the way of public-sector efforts to improve supplier diversity.

“We want, as a city, to have our vendors and partners be the best people in the business and not those who have the largest infrastructure to navigate the procurement process,” she said.
Jule Pattison-Gordon is a staff writer for Government Technology. She previously wrote for PYMNTS and The Bay State Banner, and holds a B.A. in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon. She’s based outside Boston.