State's CIO a Newcomer to Government

by Will Brunelle

Published by POLITICO New York on December 8, 2014

ALBANY—Unlike her predecessor, the newly appointed chief information officer of the state office of Information Technology Services arrives as a newcomer to state government, and to the New York political scene.

The Cuomo administration did not make the appointee, Maggie Miller, available for an interview after her appointment was announced this week, and judging from a number of interviews with people familiar with the intersection of tech and government in New York, she's a little-known commodity here.

But Miller has a lengthy private-sector resume, including a number of jobs streamlining information technology services at prominent companies.

In a 2007 interview with Computer Weekly, Miller advocated a “pragmatic,” “long-term” approach to information technology, and that projects should “keep to a path that has strategic coherence, rather than bending every which way with the monthly or quarterly demands of the business.”

Her stint at numerous large corporations, she said, “helped me to learn a common management language.”

She said in the Computer Weekly interview that she loved challenges and was eager to embrace change, which she said can “paralyze” management offices with fear.

At the time of the interview, Miller was chief information officer for the Warner Music Group.

Immediately before joining the Cuomo administration, she was C.I.O. for the Girl Scouts of the USA, a position she held since 2012.

She worked as Dell’s Europe, Middle East and Africa C.I.O. beginning in 1997, followed by a four-year stint at European grocery chain J. Sainsbury. She has an MBA from Open University Business School in England.

For the Girl Scouts, Miller “transformed the Movement-wide IT services and platforms to better support and improve the experience for nearly 3 million girl and adult members in 90 countries,” according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s press release announcing her appointment. She also had a key role in developing the Girl Scouts’ online store, which allows individual Scouts to make personalized e-commerce pages.

F. Michael Tucker, the president of upstate New York’s business-boosting Center for Economic Growth, said that he saw Miller’s “broad based resume” as a positive for the state.

”Her only experience with government is broader experience, and I think that’s a good thing because [while] no one person is going to do all the work, it certainly looks like she has the capacity to drive the continued growth and expansion of state IT services,” Tucker said.

Multiple requests for comment and information from both the state office of I.T.S. and the Girl Scouts of the USA were not returned.

Miller’s LinkedIn page touts her work as a “high impact business technology leader,” working with cloud services, “relationship building” and “business transformation.” An outdated online resume boasts of her work as an IT consultant, including her work on leading a team’s bid for a $100 million contract to “overhaul a governmental organization.”

As head of I.T.S., Miller will be responsible for continuing the mission that Cuomo established for the agency when it was founded in 2012. The agency aims to cut down on the disparate communications systems and data managed by the state, namely by centralizing all I.T. staff into one agency and directing all I.T.-related funding into one pool. Since its inception, ITS has worked to consolidate services and cut back on wasted time during interagency work.

Miller will begin working for the state on Monday.

Miller will be replacing outgoing C.I.O. Brian Digman, who has held the post since Jan. 2013, just two months after the agency was created. In an April article, Capital reported that Digman would be pushed aside in favor of new talent. It wasn't clear why the switch was made.

Since he took the helm in 2013, Digman has led the agency’s work on moving data storage to a new facility housed at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the move to using Office 365 for all state employees’ email, documents and information storage, and the establishment of “Enterprise Identity and Access Management” protocols. This work created a “single sign on” identity for state employees and residents who frequently need to access state services online, and was successfully rolled out during New York’s Health Benefits Exchange launch.

Digman was also the C.I.O. during the design and launch of the state’s colorful new website.

In a Feb. 5 testimony during the Legislative Fiscal Committees’ joint budget hearing, Digman touted the gains that I.T.S. had made under his direction, and said they were in line with Cuomo’s plan for reducing “administrative and financial stress” for agencies and those who interact with the government’s services.

In 2012, Digman won an award for his work as C.I.O. of the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, and his work was described as saving the state government $48 million annually.

Officials have repeatedly told reporters that Digman is expected to remain with the state government in some capacity, and that he did “great work” in helping get I.T.S. off the ground.
Digman was not made available for comment on this story.