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Massachusetts CIO Curtis Wood Set to Retire in January

After serving the commonwealth in various capacities for decades, Massachusetts CIO Curtis Wood has announced his forthcoming departure from his role as a new governor is set to take the reins.

Headshot of Massachusetts CIO Curtis Wood wearing a suit and green tie.
Massachusetts CIO Curtis Wood will be stepping down from his role in the new year, ending a public service career that spans several decades.

Wood's retirement date is set for Jan. 5, coinciding with the inauguration of Gov.-elect Maura Healey. And while he has not made a definitive decision about what’s next for his career, he underlined that he’s interested in staying engaged in the technology space.

“I’ve been with the commonwealth for 40-plus years, so it’s just good timing with a new administration coming in for me just to step aside and have somebody else take over,” Wood told Government Technology. “And I’ll move into my next phase of my career, whatever that may be.”

Wood took over as CIO on June 18, 2018, though his work with the state dates back to 1975. During his long-spanning public-sector career, he served in various roles, including time with the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. He played a key role in leading state IT when Gov. Charlie Baker shifted Massachusetts to a more centralized operational structure and was instrumental in the implementation of new cybersecurity strategies and technologies.

His departure is not altogether surprising, considering the party change in the state's highest office. State CIOs are replaced within a year 69 percent of the time when the governorship changes parties.

The work Wood has done to this point has set a strong technological foundation for the next administration; he believes the single area of his work that will have the greatest impact for the next CIO for success was the focus on the agency’s resilience.

A big component of that work, he said, was the Baker administration's decision to elevate the CIO role to a cabinet secretary position.

“Having a seat at the executive leadership table with fellow cabinet secretaries who run the business lines of the state, and being a trusted partner and really a technology adviser and influencer in our agency operations, allows us to think a little bit differently and surely make better technology investments,” he said.

Wood said his guiding mission was the desire to provide better services to constituents — and to make sure those services are continuously accessible, even in challenging times like those that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healey has yet to appoint the new CIO, though several other appointments have already been announced, including Matt Gorzkowicz as secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, Kate Cook as chief of staff, and Gabrielle Viator as senior adviser.

Wood believes there may be a shift in IT priorities for the incoming administration, but the mission of delivering quality government services to constituents will remain the same. He said he will work to provide support ahead of the transition to help ensure the next administration is set up for success on day one.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.