New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Anne Roest as commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, taking her from New York’s state government, where she has worked since 1986.
Roest currently serves as the public safety cluster chief information officer for the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, where she focuses on information technology programs across the state’s public safety agencies.
“Anne represents so much of what is great about our technology sector,” de Blasio said. “From her early days as a COBOL programmer at Fidelity Investments to her recent work overseeing IT operations across all of the state’s public safety operations, she’s risen up through the ladders through hard work, vision and steadfast leadership.”
The announcement comes just two weeks before New York’s Internet Week and ends some outcry from the city’s technology community, which has been waiting for a commissioner to be named. During the festival, de Blasio, who took office in January, will deliver his first major speech on the city’s technology future.
It appears that Roest may soon have a technology partner to join her in Gotham’s mayor’s office. Last week, Crain’s New York reported de Blasio is also looking to create a position similar to that of Rachel Haot, who served as the city’s chief digital officer under Michael Bloomberg.
Unlike with Haot, who joined the New York state government last year as its chief digital officer, the position de Blasio is considering would have its own budget and be housed within city hall, instead of the mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
“From everything I can tell, the administration is looking for someone who will be responsible for overseeing all of the city’s technology operations and who will also be liaising with the tech community to make sure its growth continues and is distributed equitably through all of the five boroughs,” Andrew Rasiej, chairman of NY Tech Meetup, told Crain’s. “It’s a dual role.”
Until that happens, Roest will be alone at the controls of the city’s information technology projects.
As commissioner, she will be responsible for maintaining the foundational IT infrastructure and systems that touch every aspect of city life — from public safety and human services to education and economic development — crossing the full spectrum of governmental operations.
Roest will also oversee the city’s telecommunications franchises, including the creation of a new citywide network of Internet hotspots that will constitute one of the largest free Wi-Fi networks in the country, greatly expanding access to broadband connectivity.
“As the central technology services agency, DoITT has an opportunity and responsibility to help government improve the availability and efficiency of key public services, and to build on the foundation of transparency and openness of our data,” Roest said. “I look forward to partnering with the city’s technology sector, working together to develop strategies that drive innovation, and create opportunities for New York technology firms.”
Additionally, Roest will be tasked with working with the city’s burgeoning startup culture, better known as Silicon Alley.
“Anne’s ability to envision and execute has distinguished her as a public sector leader. Whether unpacking complex problems or leading multiagency collaborations, she brings a passion for the public service and a commitment to innovation that will serve the city of New York very well,” said Dr. Theresa Pardo, director of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany.
Roest began her career as a programmer for Fidelity Investments, before continuing on to technology roles at Norstar Bank and Microsoft.
In 1986, she joined the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. During her nearly 20-year tenure as IT director and project director for the agency, Roest spearheaded a massive systems modernization project, including planning, budgeting, staffing, systems development and the analysis of business processes.
Roest was appointed as chief information officer and deputy commissioner at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in 2005, where she was tasked with implementing and governing the information technology used for criminal justice and with driving collaboration across all of the state’s public safety agencies.
In 2008, she received the Alfred E. Smith Award from American Society for Public Administration for her leadership in establishing a disaster recovery program to safeguard the state’s public safety operations in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Roest was appointed as the public safety cluster CIO at the New York State Office of Information Technology Services in 2012, where she has continued her work to improve, transform and consolidate information technology programs and resources across New York state public safety agencies.
She was recently named to the Technology Hall of Fame at the New York State Government Technology Conference.