SF Gets New Chief Information Officer

By: Jordan Kranzler

Earlier this year, San Francisco Chief Information Officer Jon Walton stepped down in order to become the CIO of San Mateo County. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee quickly launched a national search for a replacement, which identified Marc Yves Touitou as the best choice to fill the vacant post. Touitou has worked in the information technology industry for 30 years, most recently serving as the Senior Vice President and CIO for ASML, a Dutch semiconductor company. The San Francisco CIO, sometimes called the city’s IT Chief, directs the San Francisco Department of Technology.

In his announcement, Mayor Lee said, “Marc Touitou, our City’s new Chief Information Officer, is an accomplished change maker, who has proven executive experience in global organizations and shares my commitment to challenge our own city government to be more accountable and engaged, and make San Francisco, the world’s first City 2.0.”

Indeed, Touitou will have to be instrumental in putting San Francisco on the trajectory towards Government 2.0. However, this will be no easy task – Touitou has an enormous job ahead of him.

SF Government in need of a Tech “Culture Shock”

In June of 2012, the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury issued a report which stated that San Francisco needed a “culture shock” to improve its poorly organized, outdated, and underfunded technology system.

The citizens complained of an overcomplicated tech infrastructure that must be streamlined in order to properly work for San Franciscans. Examples of this include the City’s continued use of seven email systems, nine data centers, and many wide area networks. The report called for data center consolidation initiatives and other ways to streamline city tech, where the City would “combine redundant systems and duplicative services, and at the same time update technology across departments to improve effectiveness and efficiencies at a lower cost.”

In addition to making city technology easier to navigate and manage, consolidation initiatives are effective cost-savers. By using similar efforts, the California State Government is expected to save $2.9 billion due to the fiscal year of 2014 through reduced energy consumption costs and floor space. Implementing such initiatives is a major task for the CIO.

Touitou has suggested the creation of a project management office for San Francisco IT as a way to ensure clearer organization and timeliness for projects that can currently seem endless. After reforming the department, Toutiou wants to set up citywide Wi-Fi, hopefully before New York City – San Francisco’s tech rival – puts up its own network.

An Opportunity in Open Data and Government 2.0

In addition to serving as City Hall’s IT guy, Touitou will play a large role in carrying out San Francisco’s new open data policies. A week before Touitou’s appointment, San Francisco adopted a city ordinance updating the city’s open data system. This legislation was most famous for establishing a Chief Data Officer for San Francisco, but also includes additional open-data guidelines that Touitou will be left to implement.

The CIO’s duties are of utmost importance to Government 2.0, which is about creating an innovative and accessible government that works efficiently for its people – a stark contrast to the current system. In the past, Government 2.0 has given citizens a more active say in government by making it easier citizens to choose their elected leaders through online voter registration. It has also helped to ensure citizens’ safety through innovation such as AlertSF, a government text message alert system that sends emergency information to peoples’ cell phones.

Reset appreciates the effort City Hall to reach open data and Government 2.0 goals, so welcome aboard, Marc!