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Pennsylvania CIO Tony Encinias Resigns, Looks to Private Sector

After seven years with the state, the acclaimed public-sector CIO moves on.

Pennsylvania CIO Tony Encinias resigned effective 5 p.m. Eastern on March 6, after seven years with the state. Encinias departs weeks after the election of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and is leaving on mutual terms after not fitting in with the state’s new leadership. He is considering several opportunities in private-sector IT.

“We never did communicate,” he explained. “I think I was there to keep the ship afloat, to keep it moving until they brought in who they felt was a better fit for their team. You know, I’m a Republican, they’re Democrat. In my opinion, it was a political decision.”

Encinias departs after taking the CIO role in December 2012, and joining the state as chief technology officer in 2008. During that period, Encinias said he watched as technology advanced in the state -- in 2015, Pennsylvania is in much better condition technology-wise than when he started in 2008, he said. 

Indeed, the state has been recognized for progress in IT, most recently placing as a runner-up in the Center for Digital Government’s 2014 Digital States awards in the categories of Health and Human Services and Finance and Administration. Also in 2014, Encinias was recognized as one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers.

Encinias noted top achievements during his tenure, including a transformation of the state’s cybersecurity culture, particularly in the “advanced persistent threat arena.” The agency also underwent massive consolidation efforts as mainframe hosts were funneled into an enterprise shared services agreement, and 241 telecommunications contracts were consolidated into three or four. They saved “a boatload of money” that way, Encinias said. 

The former CIO also noted that he doesn’t know which direction the new administration will take IT in Pennsylvania, but since he still lives there, he hopes they will complete the transition to a cloud services model.

“I’m hoping that they continue down the path of consumption-based model and cloud services,” Encinias said. “I believe that’s really the future, and they have to move that direction. That’s really where state government needs to go, because it just makes sense from a cost perspective. … I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I think we made Pennsylvania better, and I’m just hopeful that they’re going to continue in that direction.”

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