Boston's Oates to become next Massachusetts CIO

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Boston Chief Information Officer Bill Oates will become the new CIO for Massachusetts early next year following the resignation of John Letchford.

Letchford, the state’s CIO since 2011, announced earlier this week he will leave his position Dec. 16 to take a position at Tufts University as senior strategist for information technology transformation.

In total, Letchford worked nine years for the state, including as Medicaid claims testing manager and technical operation manager at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Oates, CIO for the City of Boston, will take Letchford’s job in January at the conclusion of Mayor Thomas Menino’s term in Boston.

Oates worked with Menino to use technology to connect residents to City Hall and with the state to deploy the Commonwealth Connect mobile applications to 55 cities and towns.

Until Oates moves up the hill, Chief Capital Planning Officer for the Information Technology Division Darrel Harmer will serve as acting CIO.

Oates will inherit what has become a dicey situation in Massachusetts in regards to the state’s technology. Letchford and other state leaders were called to the state house to defend recurring problems with an unemployment insurance system.

The Deloitte-built system came in two years late and cost $6 million more than originally budgeted, along with numerous complaints from the systems users that have caused the state to hire 100 additional workers and state employees overtime to handle the volume of calls for those seeking help.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Letchford said the state’s IT division faced a huge staffing crisis as 12 members of his 20-person management team have left since July, including the state’s chief technology officer, the director of engineering and the director of security.

That comes as the legislature has allocated less for IT projects Gov. Deval Patrick has requested for three consecutive years.

“It’s been very, very difficult,’’ Letchford told the Boston Globe, adding the state plans to change the way it handles IT projects in the future, partly by broadening the pool of prequalified vendors to weed out underperformers.

Letchford said at the time he wanted to spend more time overseeing the installation of these large systems and delegate more of the day-to-day duties of the 337-person department, which is mostly unionized.

”I don’t know if I could be put in a place which is as far removed from delivering the mission of government if I tried,’’ Letchford told the Boston Globe.

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Bill Oates, John Letchford, Massachusetts, States
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