State’s top tech official stepping down

DOVER — Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins will leave his post later this month, the state announced Tuesday. He is the fourth cabinet secretary to step down or announce plans to depart this year.

Mr. Collins, who has headed the Department of Technology and Information for the past six years, will join Microsoft Consulting. Jason Clarke, chief operating officer at DTI, will become as acting CIO.

Gov. John Carney will send a CIO nomination to the Delaware Senate for consideration before the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

“James has been a central member of our team since Day 1 when I asked him to continue to lead DTI and Delaware’s transition to a more digital government,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “But his work and expertise has never been more important than over the last six months – as we have battled this COVID-19 pandemic.

James Collins

“James and his team have kept state workers connected throughout this crisis, making sure they could continue to deliver vital services to Delaware families. He has worked with the private sector to expand high-speed broadband service across rural Delaware and to protect Delawareans from cyber threats. We will miss James’ leadership but wish him well at Microsoft.”

Mr. Collins, who previously held the roles of director of the Division of Professional Regulation, deputy secretary of state, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and deputy chief of staff to then Gov. Jack Markell, has worked in state government for nearly 20 years. Mr. Markell nominated him to replace Jim Sills in 2014, and when Gov. Carney was elected two years later, he kept Mr. Collins.

During his tenure heading DTI, the state has expanded broadband internet across rural sections of the state, expanded cybersecurity and centralized IT services.

“It has been my great honor to serve in the Carney Administration and work with such dedicated public servants committed to improving life in Delaware throughout my years of public service,” Mr. Collins said in a statement. “I have been blessed with amazing opportunities in the course of my career, so I am excited for this next step to continue helping governments and institutions of higher learning transform to deliver digital services on a national scale.”

The heads of the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security departed earlier this year, and the secretary of transportation announced last month she will leave state government in the fall.

It’s not unusual to see turnover at the end of a governor’s first term, although the sheer number and the timing have raised a few eyebrows. It’s likely at least one more cabinet member will jump ship in the ensuing months.