Former Alaska Chief Information Officer Bill Vajda is returning to state government, following a stint in the federal government, as Wyoming’s new CIO, Gov. Mark Gordon’s office confirmed Thursday.
Vajda, who served as Alaska’s first statewide CIO from 2017 to early 2018, will join Gordon’s Cabinet after three years as the top IT official at the U.S. Department of the Interior. It’s the latest move in Vajda’s nomadic career, which has bounced between statewide, local-level and federal appointments.
Reached by phone, Vajda declined an interview pending his official start with Wyoming next week. A spokesperson for Gordon told StateScoop that the governor “believes Bill’s experience is going to be a real asset” for the Wyoming Department of Enterprise Technology.
The agency has been without a permanent leader since last May, when Gordon dismissed then-CIO Gordon Knopp and the state’s health director, Mike Ceballos, after a leak of hundreds of thousands of records related to COVID-19 surveillance, flu testing and breath alcohol tests. Since then, ETS has been led on an interim basis by Timothy Sheehan, the state’s information services administrator.
Vajda’s time at Interior was marked largely by the department’s response to the pandemic. In June 2020, he told FedScoop that the federal government’s shift to mostly remote operations — made more complex at a department that spans national parks and monuments to coal-mine compliance operations — accelerated an adoption of cloud-based productivity tools such as Microsoft Office 365.
In Wyoming, Vajda will once again find himself in a sprawling and rural state. His time in Alaska included sojourns to that state’s most remote regions, including a 2018 tour of its Arctic region as he reviewed a major broadband project.
Before Interior and Alaska, Vajda served in a variety of other IT and management roles, including five years as city manager in his hometown of Marquette, Michigan. He also worked in Washington in the early 2000s, serving as CIO of the U.S. Education Department and as an adviser to other agencies, including the National Security Agency and IRS.
Last fall, Vajda nearly returned to local government as a candidate for a city-manager job in Dillingham, Alaska.