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Minnesota CIO Tom Baden Will Retire in February

Tom Baden, commissioner and CIO for the state of Minnesota, will retire in February citing health as the motivation.

Minnesota’s top tech official, a longtime government IT architect and transformation advocate, will retire after more than three decades of service, news organizations in the state and around the U.S. reported on Dec. 28.

State Chief Information Officer Tom Baden was elevated to his current position in January 2015 by Gov. Mark Dayton.

On Dec. 28, the CIO told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a statement that he’s retiring to recover from “unforeseen complications stemming from some health issues,” the newspaper reported.

“In the coming days, Gov. Dayton will begin an active search for a new state CIO,” Baden said in the statement. “It has been the honor of a lifetime leading Minnesota Information Technology Services (MNIT) and watching us grow as an organization.”

Baden’s last day will be Feb. 2, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Gov. Dayton indicated his appreciation for the CIO's service to the people of Minnesota.

"I thank Commissioner Tom Baden for his 36 years of public service to the people of Minnesota and I wish him well in his retirement, " Dayton said in a statement.

He’d previously served as CIO of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services. Earlier in his now 36-year career, he’d been engaged as the state’s chief enterprise architect; as enterprise architect for the Department of Employment and Economic Development; and as a business analyst, systems engineer and even a coder.

Baden took the reins from outgoing CIO Carolyn Parnell, of an organization already in the throes of a transformational change that began in 2011, when state legislators approved plans to consolidate technology systems and IT staffers into the central MNIT Services.

And the state government veteran, who reportedly oversees about 2,200 employees, wasted no time indicating that he’d continue shepherding that consolidation. In an interview with GT just months after assuming that top spot, Baden said MNIT would devote new energy to networking with state agencies to resolve issues.

“It’s not so much a culture shift as it is a purposeful, intentional approach to working with our partners and being very focused on delivering solutions,” Baden said in August 2015.

But as he indicated in January, the process of transforming government technology is not always swift.

“I came into it with an altruistic idea of creating a fully integrated intelligent innovation platform for government, including integrating government across jurisdictions,” Baden said at the time.

“We want to use big data and analytics to become more effective in the services we provide as a state government. But I was kind of caught by surprise. We were not quite ready to dive into that yet,” he added.

Attempts to reach a representative from MNIT were unsuccessful late Dec. 28.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect statements from Gov. Mark Dayton's office received Dec. 29.

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.
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