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San Mateo County Taps Insider Mike Wentworth for CIO Spot

Wentworth, who has been in county service since 1996, will lead the Information Services Department as director and CIO. He had been serving as interim CIO since May, following the departure of Jon Walton.

An aerial view of the San Mateo Bridge.
Shutterstock/Sundry Photography
One of Silicon Valley’s most populous counties has elevated its next technology leader from within the organization.

After a nationwide search, County of San Mateo Executive Officer Michael Callagy has named longtime exec Mike Wentworth as the next chief information officer (CIO) and director of the Information Services Department (ISD). County supervisors on Tuesday approved a recommendation to confirm Wentworth’s selection. Wentworth, who joined San Mateo County in 1996, has been serving as interim CIO since May, following the departure of longtime CIO Jon Walton, and has been an executive manager for the last 13 years.

“Call him a ‘Mike of All Trades,’” the county said Friday in a news release, adding: “In his 26 years with the county of San Mateo, Mike Wentworth has worn many hats and filled many roles as he traversed departments and rose in the ranks.” As ISD director, Wentworth will oversee a department of 135 full-time positions which is charged with supporting the tech needs of all other county departments. ISD is expected to spend $79.9 million in its 2021-2022 Fiscal Year which ends June 30, during the first half of a two-year budget cycle.

Wentworth’s previous roles at San Mateo County have included deputy director of administrative services and airports in its Department of Public Works; director of administration and information services in the Human Services Agency; and deputy chief information officer/assistance director of ISD. The county executive officer highlighted his breadth of service, which spans leadership, policy and budgeting, as a “key to his selection,” the county said.

“Mike brings his genuine commitment to public service along with a skill set that will only help ISD grow into even more of a cutting-edge department. The county of San Mateo has long valued innovation and transparency, and Mike is the person to see that through,” Callagy said in a statement.

It’s tough, Wentworth told Techwire, to winnow his top priorities to a small list. But they include, he said, “all of the projects that we are doing that improve our cybersecurity, the quality of our county network, increasing the Internet bandwidth of the county, enhancing telework and improving the county’s website to strengthen the public communication access to digital services.” He added, “those are top of mind and we came to that quite simply through just the needs of our customers even prior to the pandemic, but it was underscored by sending thousands of people home overnight. Back in the beginning of 2020.”

ISD, its new leader said, is an internal-facing department — but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted other potential areas of need and opportunity.

“One of the things that has happened through the pandemic, this was a technological disruption and it created opportunities for technology to fill the void that was created when people had to shelter in place,” Wentworth said. “And so, some of the things we’ve been involved with have been the expansion of our public Wi-Fi network — we’ve tripled its size in that emergency response, in an effort to help people remote learn and also gain access to other services while having to isolate. That was a really big thing for us, and we continue to focus on that, based on the huge amount of money that’s available at the state and federal level.”

The county is also making improvements to Middlefield Road, and that work includes a “smart street subproject” that his team is working on, the CIO said. “And that is bringing equity to accessing the services in that community and helping create the environment that that part of Redwood City is interested in having.” San Mateo County is also finalizing a redesign of its website; and working to create a hybrid online/in-person model for public meetings that offers translation services in three languages.

This article was originally published by Techwire, Government Technology's sister publication.
Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, 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.