Bill Vadja, who was hired to be Gov. Bill Walker’s first chief information officer, has left the building. His departure from the Walker Administration occurred in August.
Vadja, the former city manager of Marquette, Mich., was in charge of consolidating the state’s information technology functions into a single entity. His job was created when Walker signed Administrative Order 284, creating the Office of Information Technology.
It was never going to be an easy job in a silo-entrenched culture. Vadja lasted 16 months.
While City Manager for Marquette, the community was recognized by President Barack Obama as the model for how local government should be managed in the 21st Century. Vadja was also a senior advisor to the Obama White House, where he had served as chief of coordination for the comprehensive national cybersecurity initiative during the Bush-Obama presidential transition.
It appears Vajda, who has plenty of political experience, has detected a change the political winds in Juneau. There may be a new administration come December, and the Juneau job market will be lean for appointees of Gov. Bill Walker, especially ones who were hired to be disruptors of current systems and who are highly trained in technology management.
Vajda’s resignation is one of two from the Office of Information Technology. Jim Steele was promoted to Deputy Chief Information Officer by Vajda in May of 2017, but left in December.
Meanwhile, John Boucher, a senior analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, is filling in. Although the administration has said it would search for a news leader for the Office of Information Technology, it’s unlikely that anyone will be found who would accept the job on the eve of a gubernatorial election.
This past winter, Vajda hired one of his friends from Marquette to be the state’s first-ever Innovation Stakeholder Change Manager. Jason Schneider, who had founded the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, came on board immediately after the Legislature adjourned in May.
The state’s change agent Schneider is still on payroll.