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California Public Sector CIO Academy Honors Innovative IT Leaders

Judges selected individuals who led effective teams, most faithfully served their organizations and constituencies, exhibited innovative thinking, and promoted information sharing and collaboration across California government.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Before the lights went out at the 2016 California Public Sector CIO Academy at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on Feb. 25, California’s technology leaders dreamt of their names etched in Lucite. Public CIO, sister publication to Government Technology, concluded the 15th annual event with an award ceremony recognizing the most innovative and hard-working government technology workers in the state.

Along with sessions on women in leadership, future hacking technology trends and tools, and the evolving role of the CIO, to name just a few, was an award ceremony in which 38 individuals were recognized for their effective leadership, faithful service to their organizations and constituencies, innovative thinking, and promotion of information sharing and collaboration across California government.

And for the first time in the award's history, local government officials were represented. In addition to those presented IT leadership awards, eight were named CIO or CTO of the year in their respective categories.

And the Winners Are ...

The CIO of the Year award in the Large State Department or Agency category was presented to the California Highway Patrol's Scott Howland for his many achievements, and for his continued perseverance in keeping the state’s technology fresh as his agency continues to pursue new technologies and ideas, evidenced by plans for a body camera pilot program.


Scott Howland, CIO of the California Highway Patrol, accepted the CIO of the Year Award in the Large Agency or Department category at the Public CIO Academy ceremony Thursday evening in Sacramento. Photo by Eyragon Eidam

Howland led the statewide deployment of the California Accident Reporting System (CARS) that eliminated manually entering collision reports into the state’s database and the launch of the CHP’s public website redesign; he replaced two old systems for tracking commercial motor vehicle terminal inspections with a single modern system, and completed a statewide vendor transition from Novell to Microsoft.

“I do want to say this, it’s quite the honor," Howland said,  "but as [state CIO] Carlos [Ramos] has said before, it’s all about the team. And whenever I talk about the Highway Patrol in public, I talk about the fact that it’s a team sport. You see the black and white car on the highway providing service to the public or arresting that drunk driver, helping people that need help and making sure you get home safely, but the amazing part is the huge team behind it. And I just happen to have the pleasure and the honor to lead an amazing team of people to do IT to enable those officers to do it."

Howland added how cool it is that he has such a great staff — a great team that he said deserves all the credit for the award, "because it’s our hard work that really enables our folks on the street to save lives. They actually take a huge part in saving lives and providing service to the public."

And there were four more CIO of the Year awards presented, two in the Small or Medium Department or Agency category and two in the Local Government category.

Ron Robinette, data processing manager III and CIO for the California Department of Community Services and Development was awarded in the Small or Medium Department or Agency category for his commitment to building morale within his organization and mastery of technological leadership. Judges noted reports of increased communication, technological advancement and people-focused management strategies in their consideration. Robinette’s nomination was accompanied by a testimonial to his passion for people, technology and leadership.

Scott Christman, CIO for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, also was awarded in the Small or Medium Department or Agency category, and is renowned for leading the maturation of the organization’s open data portal, which now houses more than 150 health-related data sets.

His vision was acclaimed for his service to the agency’s mission and a re-engineering of the IT arm’s organizational structure. Christman led development of a business intelligence dashboard that provides executives with critical data for making decisions and replacing a two-week manual reporting process with a robust interface that is refreshed daily. It was through Christman’s diligence and under his leadership that his agency remained the only government organization to participate in a pilot from the American Health Information Management Association’s data and information governance maturity model.

Local Government CIO of the Year awards were presented to Nevada County CIO Steve Monaghan and Alameda County CIO Tim Dupuis.


Tim Dupuis, CIO of Alameda County, accepted the CIO of the Year Award in the Local Government category at the Public CIO Academy ceremony Thursday evening in Sacramento. Photo by Eyragon Eidam

Judges were impressed by Dupuis’ commitment to citizen engagement through public hackathons branded by the county under the name Rethink AC, and employee-only hackathons called App Challenges that together generated more than 190 ideas and 10 apps that push the county’s service offerings onward. Dupuis was recognized as a people-oriented leader who promotes continuous training and growth while establishing new roles within the organization to allow the county to compete with the private sector for emerging talent. The CIO led large system upgrades that passed without major catastrophe and at relatively low cost, including a rewrite of the county’s decades-old criminal justice system.

“I do want to certainly thank the CIO Academy for honoring local government and government CIOs, Dupuis said upon accepting his award, and echoed Howland and other winners' sentiments that work done is a team effort. "And I am really, really honored to work for a tremendous leadership team and our county board of supervisors and our county administrator. But also to have a tremendous, a fantastic team of people supporting me, people in IT supporting me in some of the crazy ideas we come up with. Again, thank you for the honor of the award, and thank you for all the hard work that you do.”

Monaghan was awarded for both his achievements and his longevity, having served Nevada County for the past 16 years. During his tenure, Monaghan has led his rural county from a position of obscurity to high esteem — the Center for Digital Government has ranked the county highly in each iteration of the Digital Counties Survey for the past 12 years.

Monaghan leads a multi-county website information architecture development team used by counties across the state. He led local cable TV franchise negotiations that yielded a public-sector fiber network that today connects many county agencies. Monaghan helped build a cloud-based video streaming platform and assisted the county in securing $16 million to build a fiber-to-the home gigabit network. Judges were impressed by Monaghan’s dedication to technology, his community and the schools that his projects frequently served.


Steve Monaghan, CIO of Nevada County, accepted the CIO of the Year Award in the Local Government category at the Public CIO Academy ceremony Thursday evening in Sacramento. Photo by Eyragon Eidam

“It is certainly an honor and privilege to be part of the program,” he said after expressing thanks for his award. “As counties, we are a legal subdivision of state government, so we can’t do what we do at our level without all the good work and hard work and innovation you do in this room. On behalf of all of California’s 58 counties, I’d just like to say thank you to all of you.”

The CTO of the Year award in the large department or agency category was jointly awarded to Kem Musgrove and Marlene White of the California Franchise Tax Board for co-managing its Enterprise Data to Revenue (EDR) project, the largest tax project in the agency’s history. Musgrove and White met 10 major releases on time, generating more than $2 billion for the state.

The leadership of programs like EDR allows the state to provide citizens a higher level of service and transparency, while reducing the tax gap that has for years put a burden on the state. Without their leadership, the Center for Digital Government was told that such phenomenal progress on such an important project would not have been possible.

The CTO of the Year award also was presented to the California Natural Resources Agency's Tony Morshed, who is credited with championing a new style of IT within his agency that promotes the use of technologies that foster efficiency and innovation. Morshed knocked down silos and increased agency agility, and is responsible for modernizing the agency’s technology to the tune of 5,500 virtual servers, 11 petabytes of data storage, 2,600 applications and 1,254 networked sites. Under his leadership, 33 of his agency’s organizations were given the support needed to transform their businesses and serve the citizens, all to meet the agency’s mission of protecting California’s natural, historical and cultural resources.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.