County names new CIO: what do you hope is on his todo list?

We've had several discussions lately about what some of us would like to see from county government in terms of communications and information technology. Perhaps the county naming a new Chief Information Officer will be an opportunity for a new focus in the county on open data, open standards, and information access. What do you think? The first item on my wishlist (half jokingly) would be to have him work with Public Affairs to find a better solution than using Microsoft Office to format emailed press releases. Why? Because Microsoft's use of proprietary stylesheets makes the formatting of documents break when text is copied into other programs, unless I go through and manually edit the code.

I know the folks in county government are hard working people with a lot on their plate, so I hope any suggestion is given (and received, too) as well-meaning constructive feedback. From an Orange County press release:

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (July 12, 2013)—The Orange County Manager’s Office is pleased to announce Jim Northrup has been promoted to the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO).  Mr. Northrup has been serving as the Interim CIO, since October of 2012.


Prior to his interim capacity, Northrup served as Operations Manager for the County’s Information Technologies Department for the past seven years.  


During that time, he has led major cost-saving initiatives that include the installation of a new phone system and fiber optic infrastructure used to connect multiple County facilities.  Northrup has also played a critical role in network operations, server and desktop support as well. 


As he transitions into his new role, some of his responsibilities will include redesigning the County’s Web site and implementing the recently adopted Orange County Information Technologies Strategic Plan. 


“I am thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to lead and to collaborate with the management team in order to not only implement emerging trends in Information Technologies, but also to help each County department to deliver excellent customer service to the residents at large,” said Northrup.


Northrup is a 2005 graduate of the Chief Information Officers Certification Program at UNC Chapel Hill and of Mount Olive College in Mount Olive, NC. 


I had similar thoughts to you when I heard that the county had made a new hire. I hope to see some changes in how the county has handled communications and IT. I'm at least pleases to see that the county website redesign is already happening based on the text of this press release. That's the first step into opening up additional improvements in open data and easier information access.


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