Idaho Chief Information Officer Greg Zickau will extend his status as one of the longest-serving state technology leaders in the country as he’s reappointed under the new administration of Republican Gov. Brad Little.
Little, who was sworn in on Monday, has also named Zickau as the deputy administrator of the state’s new Governor’s Office of Information Technology Services, which was conceived under previous Gov. Butch Otter last year and officially implemented earlier this month. Zickau reports to Jeffrey Weak, formerly the director of the now-defunct Information Technology Services division, who has been appointed as the administrator of the new executive IT office.
Zickau told StateScoop the new governor is making IT modernization a key focus of his technology strategy, along with enhanced network functionality and security. The CIO will help consolidate and streamline the state’s disparate IT offices through the new office, but the plan will do even more than that, he said.
“The modernization effort is going to look at every aspect of IT, from citizen-facing services to people and process,” Zickau said. “Any place that we can find something to improve, the governor’s very interested in that, and we want to help make that a habit for him.”
After retiring from a 25-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Zickau was hired as the state’s chief technology officer under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne in July 2004 when the state’s IT office was housed under the Department of Administration. At that time, Idaho statute required that the department director also hold the role of CIO, which, curiously, left Zickau, as CTO, head of the Office of the Chief Information Officer. In 2016, the technology office broke off from the Department of Administration and Zickau was given the CIO title that more accurately described the role he had assumed over the years.
Weak, also an Air Force veteran, first joined the state as director of information security in 2017 and became the director of the technology division last July.
The two officials told StateScoop they expect to increase the size and efficiency of the new executive office this year. Pending legislative and committee approval, Weak said, the office will double its staff and grow the number of state employees whose technology it oversees from 450 to nearly 1,800. Under Little’s strategy, this is the first phase of the state’s modernization process, which will include consolidating eight state agencies. The technology office projects this will save nearly $900,000 annually.
Weak said he and Zickau are also scheduled to meet with the joint financial appropriations committee in three weeks to discuss an upgrade to the state’s core network. If that meeting goes well, he said, it could be the foundation of a “new level of service” for state workers and agencies.
“That’s not to disparage how they operate. I just think that as we reorganize and reshuffle how folks are employed in the state, we can, I think, deliver a better product in the end,” Weak said.
“[Little’s] got a great vision on where he wants to be as far as modernization of IT services, gaining efficiency and security along the way. That is key for us,” Zickau said. “Not that Gov. Otter didn’t understand IT and security, but Gov. Little has a very solid background on which we can leverage, and have maybe improved conversations in that regard.”
Colin Wood contributed reporting to this story.