LouisianaVoice has learned that Louisiana’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) Ed Driesse and three members of his staff have already or are quitting, apparently over ongoing disagreements with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s staff regarding the outsourcing of the State Office of Information Technology (OIT).
Driesse, who makes $167,000 a year, was contacted Tuesday and said his last day will be April 5.
Assistant Director Barbara Oliver and Deputy CIO Randy Walker retired on Jan. 18. The third, Assistant Director Mike Gusky, is also scheduled to leave, Driesse said.
Oliver presently earns $118,000 per year and Gusky’s salary is $117,000, according to State Civil Service records. Walker’s salary was unavailable.
As the state CIO, Driesse heads the Office of Information Technology in the Division of Administration (DOA) within the Office of the Governor.
The CIO is the state’s point person for matters related to IT and IT resources, including setting policies, standards, hardware and software deployment, strategic and tactical planning, acquisition, management, and operations in keeping with industry trends, both private and public. The CIO oversees several IT organizations within the DOA, acting as architect and primary executor of technical and business strategy for IT in Louisiana state government.
Act 772 of 2001set forth several policies of OIT, including:
• The implementation of IT standards for hardware, software and consolidation of services;
• The review and coordination of IT planning, procurement and budgeting;
• The providing of oversight for centralization/consolidation of technology initiatives and the sharing of IT resources;
• Assuring compatibility and connectivity of Louisiana’s information systems;
• The providing of oversight on IT projects and systems for compliance with statewide strategies, goals and standards.
Several additional legislative acts in 2001 provided for:
• The electronic government structure for the executive branch (governor’s office) of state government;
• The duties of the Office of Telecommunications Management (OTM);
• Electronic governmental transactions;
• Electronic transactions by certain state agencies.
Act 409 of 2009 abolished the Office of Electronic Services and transferred its duties to OIT. At the same time, it redefined the duties of the Louisiana Geographic Information Systems Council and the Louisiana Geographic Information Center.
Last February, the Civil Service Commission rejected a plan to terminate 69 IT employees in the Department of Health and Hospitals when DHH attempted to push through a privatization contract with the University of New Orleans (UNO).
Last October, eight months after that initial effort, the Civil Service Commission signed off on a revised proposal that called for revamping DHH IT services.
That plan, which involved no layoffs, called for various IT functions to be spread out among four different entities—DHH, the University of Louisiana Lafayette, UNO and a private vendor, Venyu Solutions. The move was projected to save about $1.12 million from the current $37.8 million expense, the administration said.
Venyu contributed $5,000 to Jindal’s re-election campaign in October of 2011.
In 2012, Louisiana was one of only seven states to receive an A-grade in national rankings on providing online access to government spending data. The state’s score of 92 out of 100 was tied with Massachusetts. Arkansas, by contrast, received a grade of F. The state received a score of only eight out of 100, for third worst in the nation.
The rankings were compiled by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PRIG) Education Fund, a consumer watchdog organization that promotes and evaluates transparency in government spending.
Louisiana’s OIT was also cited as having taken the lead among states in providing detailed performance evaluations of government agencies.
Driesse has 15 years’ experience as a chief information officer in both the public and private sectors, including three Fortune 500 companies.
Prior to his appointment, he served as CIO for DHH and also served as CIO for AECOM Technology Corp., a global design and management services company in Los Angeles, where he managed a budget of more than $50 million and a staff of 260.
He also served as CIO for Foster Wheeler, Ltd., a global engineering and construction company in Clinton, N.J., where he oversaw the global deployment of the JD Edwards integrated applications system.
Driesse also served as Vice President and CIO for Zimmer, Inc., of Warsaw, IN, and for HealthTrust, Inc., of Nashville, TN.
He holds a B.S. in mathematics and a M.S. in computer science, both from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.
There was no word on the planned privatization of OIT.
An email inquiry to the Jindal’s office got no response.