Utah CIO resigns after auditor reports favoritism

Utah systems chief Phillip Windley is the latest CIO to leave his post in an end-of-the-year blizzard of state CIO resignations.

Three other state CIOs'Georgia's Larry Singer, New Jersey's Judith Teller and Iowa's Richard Varn'also recently resigned.

'I have come to realize that I have become an impediment to implementing our e-government vision and an efficient, effective IT infrastructure,' Windley said in a resignation letter to Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt. 'The conversation has increasingly become about me instead of the work that needs to be done to benefit the citizens.'

Appointed in March 2001, Windley previously had been vice president of product development and operations at the now-defunct Excite@Home of Redwood City, Calif.

As CIO and director of Utah's Information Technology Services, Windley came under fire in a September report from the state's legislative auditor general.

Pattern emerges

'We believe favoritism towards former Excite@Home employees has occurred,' the report said. 'While individual cases may not raise strong concerns, taken together we believe these cases display a pattern which does yield strong concerns of favoritism.'

It said five of the nine hires from Excite@Home got higher starting salaries than other new hires'an average of six steps above the salary schedule's midpoint and about $12,000 more per year.

Although Windley acknowledged 'mixed emotions of anger, sadness, excitement and relief,' he said his resignation was not forced.

In a Dec. 4 statement, Leavitt said, 'The state is losing a very talented technology leader and strategist. I commend Phil for his service and reaffirm the vision we share for online government.'

Windley has master's and doctorate degrees in computer science from the University of California at Davis and a bachelor's in engineering from the University of Idaho.

He was an associate professor of computer science at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, from 1993 to 1999.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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