Ohio Chief Information Officer Stu Davis will step down Sept. 7, state officials confirmed to StateScoop. Davis submitted a resignation letter last Friday to Robert Blair, the director of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, which includes the Office of Information Technology that Davis has led since January 2011.
“After serving in the role of State Chief Information Officer and Assistant Director for over 7 years and 9 months, I will take some much-needed time off, rest and consider what the future holds for me,” Davis wrote in his letter.
Davis is the latest in a wave of state CIOs to step down ahead of elections to replace the outgoing governors who appointed them. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a two-term Republican, will leave office at the end of the year; earlier this month, New Mexico CIO Darryl Ackley resigned ahead of the upcoming election to replace term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez.
During his time atop Ohio’s IT bureau, Davis was tasked with consolidating the state’s tech infrastructure, including a consolidation of more than 30 individual agency data centers into a single statewide hub , and reducing overall spending. In his response to Davis’ resignation letter, Blair credited him with saving the state more than $162 million, and reducing expenditures on hardware by 98 percent.
But Davis was in the crosshairs when it came to reviews of Ohio’s IT spending, especially when State Inspector General Randall Meyer investigated the procurement process across the entire Department of Administrative Services, revealing a culture of no-bid contracting that opened still-unanswered questions about whether the agency overpaid for services.
The scrutiny began in April 2017, when the Columbus Dispatch reported that the department, including the IT office, routinely sidestepped a state policy that requires all non-competitive contracts worth more than $50,000 to be approved by a state control board. The Dispatch report prompted Meyer to examine IT contracts to two vendors worth a total $15 million. Meyer’s investigation found that in early 2013, Davis used his government email account to ask CGI, one of Ohio’ biggest IT contractors, to host his appearance at a conference in Cincinnati. That led to CGI paying the event’s organizer $37,000 to sponsor Davis’s session.
Last December, Meyer issued a report stating that Davis ran afoul of state ethics rules in asking CGI to sponsor his appearance at the Cincinnati conference because he was “simultaneously engaged in approving contracts and contract amendments.”
While not accused of a crime, Davis was reprimanded in February and ordered to take ethics classes. “While you may not have been seeking personal monetary benefit, your correspondence could be misinterpreted and create the wrong perception,” Blair told him at the time.
A separate investigation by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost concluded in June and recommended several reforms to the entire Department of Administrative Services’ procurement processes, including making more contracts competitive.
But Blair was complimentary in accepting Davis’ resignation, noting his cost-saving and data-center consolidation efforts since 2011. “The state has been well served during your tenure as State CIO and we wish you well in your future endeavors,” Blair wrote back to Davis.
Tom Hoyt, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, tells StateScoop there is no decision yet on the appointment of a new CIO.