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New C-Suite Titles Gain Ground in Government IT Agencies

Blockchain architects, analytics officers and reinvention officers now work alongside CIOs, CTOs and CDOs. Here are the newer tech-related roles in state and local government that caught our eye.

Computer and notebooks on a desk
The chief information officer, the chief technology officer, the chief information security officer and even the chief data officer are all fairly common in government in 2020. And other titles like the chief innovation officer and the chief privacy officer, or minor variations of those roles, have been steadily gaining ground for the past several years. But the antennae of news hounds perk up when a city, county or state adds an interesting new job to their payroll — especially one that touches tech. And while many come and go faster than an elected official with a pet project, others end up gathering momentum and entering the mainstream. Click through for a look at a few that caught our attention. 


Chief Bicycle Officer

While the link to tech here is negligible, it’s hard to imagine a role more fun to fill than chief bicycle officer. Atlanta started its first recruitment for this job in mid-2015. At the time, Mayor Kasim Reed tied the position to the city’s bike-sharing program as well as various safety initiatives, vowing to ramp up the viability of cycling as a commute option for employees.


Chief Compliance Officer

Following government’s many rules and regulations generally falls to the chief compliance officer, usually someone with some legal background and an awareness of the applicable rules that govern the business of the public sector. A stronger link to data privacy issues has connected this role to technology in recent years, and some organizations, like San Diego County, have linked the two formally with a chief privacy and compliance officer role. Others, like the state of Idaho, have a chief compliance officer in IT security.


Chief Analytics Officer

Closely related to the work of the chief data officer is the chief analytics officer, a role that the state of Wisconsin is currently developing. New York City was perhaps the first in government to introduce the role during the term of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The term “analytics” hints at the complex charge analytics officers must face: not just collecting data and posting it on an open portal, but also establishing policies for data sharing and getting to the point where it can be used to solve problems.


Chief Performance Officer

Under the heading of data-driven government, a growing number of jurisdictions are adding the role of chief performance officer. Connecticut, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, to name a few, have appointed someone with an understanding of technology and data who focuses on overall organizational performance, aligning data to illuminate opportunities for more efficient ways of doing things.


Chief Customer Officer

The introduction of the role of the chief customer officer is a sign of the times. Increasingly, government IT staff are trained to focus on their customers, both citizens and their colleagues in government, and ensure they’re delivering the best possible service and support. In other words, CIOs need staff with both technical and customer service expertise. The state of Colorado and the U.S. General Services Administration have had chief customer officers for several years.   


Chief Reinvention/Transformation Officer

We grouped these together as their jobs seem roughly aligned. Kevin Parker in North Dakota appeared at press time to be the country’s only chief reinvention officer. Brought on last September to help realize Gov. Doug Burgum’s grand vision for a customer-focused government operation, the state equated Parker’s role to that of chief digital officer in other government organizations.

Transformation officers have popped up a few times as well, though no one appears to presently hold the role in government. Arkansas and Colorado have hired for this job before, tasked with aligning multiple tech-related efforts to bring about lasting organizational change.

CIO Strategy

Chief Strategy Officer

Arizona Chief Strategy Officer Doug Lange works alongside the state CIO and COO, and oversees IT strategy at the enterprise level, developing internal and external partnerships, and leading the state’s business engineering group. Colorado Chief Strategy Officer Julia Richman works at the intersection of product management and business architecture, as well as marketing and communications. Illinois and Nashville, Tenn., have both previously had staff with this title, while Hawaii has one now who oversees the state’s broadband push.

Chief Digital Services Officer

San Francisco’s Digital Services team is the envy of many cities, and with good reason. Described as a group focused on “improving the city’s customer service experience,” at its helm is Carrie Bishop, whom San Francisco hired fresh off a stint as director of London-based FutureGov, a private-sector company devoted to helping governments achieve a similar mission. A handful of other jurisdictions, including Boston, now have or have had a chief digital officer (hold the “services”) with similar responsibilities.


Chief Knowledge Officer

Its name alone makes a lot of sense in an era where governments at all levels are unlocking the power of data and analytics to improve the way they do the people’s business. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., first filled the chief knowledge officer position in 2016, charged with using government-held data to improve interactions with citizens.


Blockchain Solution Architect

A handful of states have started dabbling in blockchain technology, evidenced by the nine that had working groups studying the technology as of late last year. Colorado appears to be the first, however, to hire a blockchain solution architect (not a chief, but an interesting role nonetheless). A piece of enabling legislation passed in 2018 laid the necessary groundwork, identifying the distributed ledger technology as a possible tool to help the state lock down its sensitive data.


Chief Algorithms Officer

Last November, New York City announced that it would be adding another tech-related position to its payroll, that of chief algorithms officer. The news was sparked by the work of the city’s Automated Decision Systems Task Force, responsible for developing policy suggestions to ensure that the city could identify and remove any bias associated with algorithms in city service delivery tools.
Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.