From CIA to S.C., CIO puts mission first

From CIA to S.C., CIO puts mission first

Matt DeZee spent years in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Washington D.C.'s Capital Beltway.

DeZee had been director of computing and global telecommunications operations for the CIA for two years, and from 1989 to 1997 he was president and CEO of Scientific and Technical Analysis Corp. of Fairfax, Va.

So on the July day he drove to his new job as South Carolina's first CIO, he thought it must be a state holiday nobody told him about'the roads seemed empty. But it was just a normal day in Columbia, S.C.

In contrast with his serene new surroundings, DeZee was faced with some daunting challenges as he began the job. First, the state's budget was cut by nearly one-fifth.

'At 19 percent, legislators aren't cutting meat or fat anymore,' DeZee said. 'That's cutting into the bone.'

But he found a silver lining in the lean-budget cloud. 'When times are tough, there's a tendency to be more cooperative, more collaborative than when you're rolling in dough,' he said.

Then came Sept. 11, which caused the state to focus all its energies on strengthening its essential systems and more firmly establishing its business plan, DeZee said.

South Carolina has some special security concerns. The state is home to the Savannah River Nuclear Plant, and it is no stranger to sudden, costly disasters such as hurricanes, so making a pitch for building up the state's security infrastructure was not a hard sell, DeZee said.

DeZee's main goal in the next few months is to lay out a statewide enterprise architecture. South Carolina has 13 cabinet agencies that report to the governor. Each agency has developed its own information system architecture over the years. 'What needs to happen is appropriate legislation,' DeZee said, 'giving the Office of the CIO the authority for things like digital signatures.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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