Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe has selected Karen Jackson to be his secretary of technology, maintaining a sense of continuity in Virginia’s technology leadership.
Jackson, who has served as Virginia’s deputy secretary of Technology since 2009, has served in the past two Virginia gubernatorial administrations, originally being appointed by Democrat Tim Kaine and then retained by Republican Bob McDonnell.
Within the McDonnell administration, Jackson focused on technology matters including modeling and simulation, telecommunications, telework and unmanned aerial systems.
In his announcement Thursday, McAuliffe also appointed Nancy Rodrigues to be his secretary of administration. He released a statement talking about both.
“Nancy and Karen, like my other cabinet appointments, are leaders who will put partisan battles aside to do what is best for Virginia’s businesses and economy,” McAuliffe’s statement said. “They have served governors both Democratic and Republican, and have dedicated their careers to making Virginia a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”
By promoting Jackson, McAuliffe will keep some cohesion with the state’s information technology department as the secretary of technology serves as the head of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, which oversees the state’s outsourcing agreement with Northrop Grumman.
Virginia is one of the only a handful of state’s that outsources all of its information technology needs to outside vendor. The state entered into a 10-year, $2.3 billion contract with Northrop Grumman in 2005 that was later extended by McDonnell early in his administration despite early problems.
In interviews with StateScoop, outgoing Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey and Chief Information Officer Sam Nixon said VITA has been able to stabilize the early troubles it faced with Northrop Grumman and the two are now working in concert.
One big challenge facing Jackson will be to help determine the future of the contract. While it is set to expire in 2019, plans have already started to determine the success of the contract and if it will be viable to continue or if the state needs to take another path. Jackson will take over that role and, along with McAuliffe, play a key role in determining the outsourcing agreement’s future.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council, for one, praised Jackson’s appointment.
“NVTC congratulates Karen Jackson who Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe named as his secretary of technology earlier today,” NVTC President Bobbie Kilberg said. “As deputy secretary of technology, Karen has been a great partner with the technology community and has cultivated a strong record of success. We look forward to working with Karen in her new role as Virginia’s secretary of technology to further distinguish Virginia as a global technology center.”
Karen Jackson serves as Vice President of CIT Broadband as well as the Deputy Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, she serves as a senior advisor to the McDonnell Administration on technology matters including modeling and simulation, telecommunications, telework, and unmanned aerial systems. In these areas, she is responsible for policy and legislative initiatives as well as developing programs to facilitate innovation, collaborations, technology development and adoption. Ms. Jackson serves as the Virginia lead for the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership with New Jersey (MAAP). Prior to her current appointment, she served as Deputy Secretary of Technology and director of the Commonwealth’s Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance for the Kaine Administration. Ms. Jackson has been actively engaged in the federal policy initiatives including the development of the National Broadband Plan. She received a 2009 IP3 award from Public Knowledge for her work in information policy and was named to Government Technology’s 2010 list of the top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers. Ms. Jackson serves on a number of Boards including the Virginia Telehealth Network, the Information Technology Advisory Council, the Policy Committee of the National Modeling and Simulation Coalition, and the National Center for Collaboration in Medical Modeling and Simulation. She holds a bachelor’s of science in business management from Christopher Newport University and a master’s of business administration from The College of William and Mary.