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Rhode Island Names First Chief Innovation Officer

Rhode Island's first chief innovation officer, Richard Culatta, brings decades of experience innovating in the education sector.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Jan. 11 the appointment of Richard Culatta as the state's first chief innovation officer. Culatta joins the state with a background in education, having spent four years with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology as a senior advisor, and almost eight years as the owner of a consultancy called Innovative Learning.

"Part of creating opportunities for all Rhode Islanders is putting their needs first and turning away from how government has always done things," Raimondo said in a press release. "We need new approaches, both in the way government operates, and in the types of businesses we attract and nurture here. The role of the chief innovation officer will be about opening up government and using data to solve problems."

Culatta's $210,000 salary will come from the Rhode Island College Foundation, and Culatta will work out of Rhode Island College, where he told Rhode Island National Public Radio he hopes to collaborate with students and professors.

A couple of areas he hopes to focus on are resources for new businesses in the state and the licensing process, he told the news outlet. Culatta may also work to transition the state's schools toward open educational resources and develop new models to attract talent to government, according to the governor's office press release.

"To effectively serve citizens, government needs to become competent in the Digital Age and work with the private sector to tackle challenges that are too big for either to solve on their own," Culatta said. "In so doing, Rhode Island has the opportunity to become a nationally recognized innovation hub and an example for the rest of the country of how to make government move faster at a reduced cost."

Editor's Note: Minor changes made on Jan. 14 for clarity.

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