Virginia governor-elect will disband technology secretary role

That office's responsibilities will be split between the Department of Administration and the secretary of commerce and trade.

In addition to upcoming changes to Virginia state government’s technology leadership, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam has also announced a reorganization of the state’s technology offices.

While Northam, who will be sworn in on Saturday, has not yet named the technology leaders who will serve his administration, his camp announced plans Tuesday to disband the technology office now led by Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. Technology oversight and operations will instead be moved under the state’s Department of Administration, while the Center for Innovative Technology, which is overseen by the secretary of technology, will be moved under the secretary of commerce and trade, Jackson told StateScoop.

Within the new technology office, two new roles have also been announced:

  • A deputy secretary, which has not yet been given an official title, who will “implement data sharing among agencies to improve performance and to open up more government data for public use, innovation, and state technology needs,” and 
  • A “deputy secretary of commerce and trade for technology and innovation” charged with developing programs around cybersecurity, unmanned systems, smart cities and entrepreneurship

Appointments to these roles will be announced “at a later date,” according to the Northam administration.

In recent years, similar restructurings have been seen in cities like Philadelphia, where moving certain technology roles under the Department of Administration was viewed as a means to better support cost-saving initiatives and further delineate IT operations and strategy.

Northam has repeatedly broadcast intentions to continue the stream of workforce initiatives, often oriented around emerging technology fields, started by Gov. Terry McAuliffe under the banner of the “New Virginia Economy.”

Jackson has cited McAuliffe’s support of her office as one of the primary factors allowing for his administration’s prolific portfolio of technology projects.

“It will be interesting to see whether or not this new structure will be able to build on the foundation that we’ve laid,” Jackson said.


The Richmond Technology Council said the change is a step forward.

“While Virginia’s secretaries of technology have served with great distinction, the reality is that technology no longer exists in a silo,” council President Robby Demeria said in a statement. “Technology is integral to all facets of Virginia government, and this reform will help improve our use of data and technology into the commonwealth’s delivery of government services.”

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