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Louis Gutierrez Resigns: Deja Vu on Beacon Hill

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In (another) sad day in Massachusetts, State CIO Louis Gutierrez submitted his resignation today to the Romney administration.   Like his predecessor, Peter Quinn, Louis is a man of principle.  And, like Peter, he is taking the high road by using his resignation to inform the citizens of Massachusetts of a regrettable lapse on the part of their elected representatives.  In his letter of resignation to State Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas Trimarco, he states:

IT innovation in Massachusetts state government ran out of steam in August, when the legislature closed its formal session without action on the IT and facilities bond.  I am presiding over the dismantling of an IT investment program - over a decade in the evolution - that the legislative leadership appears unwilling to salvage at this time.  I am therefore asking leave to relinquish my posts....  I have no remaining expectation of timely legislative action, and no continued appetite to watch the IT investment program lapse. 

In a message sent to staff, Gutierrez struck a more personal note, and also elaborated on his reasons for submitting his resignation at this time:

When I joined ITD this year, I anticipated many challenges. It was my intention to navigate them through the start of the next administration. One scenario I found it hard to imagine, though, was the lapse in the bond funding that sustains most state IT investment....

Because I have no remaining expectation of near-term action on the IT Bond, I have offered Secretary Trimarco my resignation, effective 30 days from now. It is my hope through this resignation to provide one additional window onto the situation, which I trust will someday be resolved, but which stands to set the state's IT investment program back many steps the longer the lapse persists.

What effect will this latest resignation have on the Romney administration's commitment to ODF?  Linda Rosencrace reports in Computerworld that Romney administration spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom has stated that Gutierrez's resignation will have "no effect on the state's ODF policy."

Gutierrez assumed his position in January, and has been a model of discretion and realism as he sought to stabilize the Information Technology Division's (ITD's) efforts to modernize, following last fall's controversy surrounding ODF implementation.  He has tried to keep his department out of the limelight, to reassure those that hold the pursestrings that ITD's plans are prudent and fiscally responsible, and to maintain morale among his people following the rough ride and sudden departure of his predecessor.  In my opinion and observation, he has succeeded extremely well in pursuing each of these goals.

Gutierrez's resignation is doubly unfortunate in that it is occasioned by the failure of the legislature to pass the bond bill that Peter Quinn resigned in part to protect.  And it is ironic in that the same legislature that heard allegations that implementing ODF might drive up IT expenses now appears to be guaranteeing much higher IT costs by derailng the state's carefully conceived plan to rationalize and upgrade its IT infrastructure.

Unfortunately, this seems to be business as usual in the Commonwealth.  Lately, the legislature seems to be committed to presenting the Bay colony not as a city on a hill, but as a set of bumblers (at best) in the corridors of the State House.  And all this while in the limelight brought by Information Technology Division's plans to implement ODF.

What a splendid example for Massachusetts to set as it tries to maintatin its reputation as a center of technology excellence and innovation - while it fails to maintain its own computer systems.

The full text of Louis Gutierrez's resignation letter, as well as his letter to his staff, are below.  His resignation will take effect in thirty days.

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Other observations:

IBM's Bob Sutor:  HR news from Massachusetts 

Martin Lamonica, I believe, broke the story:  Massachusetts CIO quits (and was kind enough to send me a link)

Resignation Letter:

Secretary Thomas Trimarco
Administration and Finance
State House, Room 373

Dear Secretary Trimarco:

I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Commonwealth's CIO and Director of the Information Technology Division this year.   It has been an honor to work for Governor Romney, for you, and for the administration, this year and during construction of the EHS Virtual Gateway.

I am, however, offering you my resignation, effective in 30 days.

IT innovation in Massachusetts state government ran out of steam in August, when the legislature closed its formal session without action on the IT and facilities bond.  I am presiding over the dismantling of an IT investment program - over a decade in the evolution - that the legislative leadership appears unwilling to salvage at this time.

I have been clear that operations are not presently generally at risk, in order to avoid false alarm.  But what should cause concern are the pervasive effects of IT investment shutdown.  There are real costs to departments that need to terminate and later restart projects; to the families of contractors terminated; from increasing replacement risks for aging systems; from jeopardized federal reimbursement; from foregone benefits of fixing core business processes; and to the business community engaged in supporting Commonwealth initiatives.   The next administration will need to reconstruct not only individual projects, but also some of the planning and infrastructure around managing a portfolio of IT initiatives, setting its own agenda behind.  There is security risk imposed by another half-year's delay in commencing work on the state's backup data center.  There is dilution of the state's credibility as an IT purchaser.  There is damage to morale, and a sense that IT does not matter, or does not matter enough, to obtain adequate financing, despite the administration's filing of IT bond replenishment legislation in May of 2005.

I trust in public processes, and so trust that agreement will eventually be reached on continuation funding for the Commonwealth's IT investment program.

But despite my best efforts to make clear the imminence and impacts of runout this year - and your own and others' unsparing efforts to the same purpose - legislative leadership remains unmoved, and the situation remains log-jammed, despite what I understand to be general agreement as to need.

I am therefore asking leave to relinquish my post, as I have no remaining expectation of timely legislative action, and no continued appetite to watch the IT investment program lapse.

I look forward to the point in time at which the log-jam clears, and wish the state - administration, legislature, and public - every success when that time arrives.

Sincerely,

Louis Gutierrez

Message to staff:

Hi -

When I joined ITD this year, I anticipated many challenges. It was my intention to navigate them through the start of the next administration. One scenario I found it hard to imagine, though, was the lapse in the bond funding that sustains most state IT investment.

But we're entering October, and to the best of my understanding there is no date established to act on the funding, or date to agree on a date, despite many efforts continuing up until this week.

 

Much of what I do (and much of what ITD does) is about these investments - deciding among them; working with our team to administer their finances; working with our team on the architecture, infrastructure, or frameworks to get the most out of shared investments; trying to understand how to fit lots of demand into tight capital budgets.

 

Because I have no remaining expectation of near-term action on the IT Bond, I have offered Secretary Trimarco my resignation, effective 30 days from now. It is my hope through this resignation to provide one additional window onto the situation, which I trust will someday be resolved, but which stands to set the state's IT investment program back many steps the longer the lapse persists.

 

I do, however, also provide executive management to our agency. And I intend to be fully engaged in that capacity through the next 30 days, and ask the same from our entire management team and staff - not only through transitions at my level, but as we transition to the next administration as well. 

I will keep you posted on developing information in this regard, and ask that you regard this information as relatively routine in the great ebbs and flows of state government.

I will not be expressing goodbyes for awhile, but it remains for now my privilege to say thanks for the work you do daily on behalf of ITD and our customers.

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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Louis Gutierrez Resigns: Deja Vu on Beacon Hill | 2 comments | Create New Account
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Louis Gutierrez Resigns: Deja Vu on Beacon Hill
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 05:25 PM CDT
This problem of funding will end when the administration finally hires a CIO that Microsoft approves. Microsoft can afford to spend more that the entire IT budget to get what they want, and they want ODF to die. Get a CIO that wants to install Microsoft technology and the money will flood in. Just watch.
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