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Dallas Information Security Head Steps in as Interim CIO

The city’s chief technology and information security officer of six years will, for now, serve as chief information officer following the retirement Tuesday of CIO Bill Zielinski. The outgoing CIO will head to the private sector.

The Dallas skyline at sunset.
Brian Gardner, Dallas’ six-year chief technology and information security officer, took the helm Wednesday as the city’s interim CIO.

Brian Gardner, interim CIO, Dallas.
He’ll lead the city’s Information and Technology Services (ITS), which has 260 employees delivering more than 860 systems and services across the city’s 13,415 employees. In turn, Dallas has more than 1.3 million residents.

Gardner holds a Ph.D. in information technology and has worked in the public and private sectors, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also volunteers with youth and public schools in Dallas and Arlington.

Bill Zielinski is the city’s outgoing CIO and retired Tuesday after four years; he will be joining the private sector, The Dallas Morning News reported last week.

The city has been recognized for launching a smart neighborhood and a cyber safety app for citizen use. ITS has a budget of more $140 million and has added to its cyber budget since May.

Dallas has gone through its share of technology woes, but ITS maintains transparency by publishing its accountability report regularly. As to the May 2023 ransomware attack on the city, Gardner and Zielinski have spoken at industry events about the response and the city’s evolving cyber stance.

“ITS will continue to improve services for the city, embrace innovation, and reduce our technical debt,” Gardner said Tuesday, as well as “continue to publish, as well as expand, the information in the Technology Accountability Report (TAR).”

TAR provides updates and performance metrics across key areas of IT delivery and management, tracking timelines, budgets and successes of IT projects and programs. It also provides status updates for the city’s cybersecurity programs, including results of phishing campaigns, malware remediation, data backups and other targeted security programs.

This story first appeared in Industry Insider — Texas, part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
Rae D. DeShong is a Dallas-based e.Republic staff writer and has worked at The Dallas Morning News and as a community college administrator.