Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that Bill Kehoe, who’s presently the chief information officer in Los Angeles County, California, will be the state’s new CIO.
Kehoe, who’s been in Los Angeles County since 2017, will take over Washington Technology Solutions, the state’s IT agency, and become a member of Inslee’s Cabinet when he begins Aug. 1. In his current role, Kehoe manages the tech needs for 37 county agencies and is the top tech adviser to the county’s Board of Supervisors and chief executive officer.
The move to Olympia is a homecoming of sorts for Kehoe. Before moving to California, he was CIO of King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, for seven years. Before that, he was the inaugural CIO at the state Department of Licensing from 2002 to 2010.
“In our rapidly developing technological landscape, I have no doubt that Bill, a proven innovative leader, is the best person to lead WaTech through their next chapter,” Inslee said in a press release. “Under his leadership and experience of over two decades serving as a CIO, WaTech will continue to improve the delivery of quality technology solutions and protect the information of the people and agencies of Washington.”
Washington’s been without a permanent statewide IT chief since March, when Jim Weaver left the state to take over as CIO for the State of North Carolina. Since Weaver’s departure, Mark Quimby, WaTech’s deputy director for technology and operations, has been serving as interim CIO. He is expected to return to his old position upon Kehoe’s arrival.
“Technology is a critical strategic component of the state strategy in transforming and improving services to the people of Washington, and WaTech provides important strategic and operational expertise to enable the improvements,” Kehoe said in the governor’s press release.
WaTech was created in 2015 as Washington moved to consolidate its state-government IT services, and since that time has also grown to include the state’s first chief privacy officer, Katy Ruckle, as the state has tried — and failed — to pass a sweeping data-privacy bill.
Kehoe joins at a time when the agency is also navigating a realignment of the state workforce after the COVID-19 pandemic. During an online conference last September, Weaver predicted that many Washington state employees will continue to work remotely even after the health crisis passes.
The state is also in the early stages of a cybersecurity consolidation that Inslee and Weaver called for in February following the disclosure that the Office of the Washington State Auditor was one of many large organizations worldwide to suffer a data breach connected to a zero-day exploitation of the file-transfer vendor Accellion.
Last month, Inslee signed legislation that will transform WaTech’s Office of Cybersecurity from a division that advises a string of federated agencies on best practices to one that oversees IT security across the entirety of Washington state government, including establishing governmentwide standards and ensuring continuity of government in the event of a major cyberattack.
A Los Angeles County spokesperson told StateScoop that Peter Loo, chief deputy CIO, will take over for Kehoe on an interim basis.