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Bonaguro Leaves Role as State’s Chief Data Officer

The award-winning technologist, who has a background in the public and private sectors, held the role in the California Government Operations Agency for a little more than three years.

Colorful lines of data.
The state’s chief data officer, Joy Bonaguro, has stepped down.

Joy Bonaguro
Joy Bonaguro
Bonaguro, an award-winning technologist with experience in the public and private sectors, said Thursday on Twitter that May 31 had been her last day. She was named to the position by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January 2020, right before the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

In a Medium post Thursday on her time as CDO, Bonaguro reflected on being a “change maker” in government, acknowledging: “But there’s a problem.”

“By design, the government doesn’t change much. And individual incentives to change within that system are weak,” Bonaguro wrote. “We celebrate funding, not delivery. We announce new stuff, not reflect on old stuff.”

On LinkedIn, her profile was updated to read “On sabbatical,” which Bonaguro said will be the “sabbatical I intended before this role.”

“As I reflect on my career to date, I hope to do a lot of reading, thinking, chatting and possibly some writing as I contemplate what’s next,” she added.

Before her appointment, Bonaguro had been head of systems and data for Corelight Inc. since 2018. She was CDO for the city/county of San Francisco from 2014 to 2018, following a tenure as IT policy manager for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 2011 to 2014. She also held multiple data and design positions for the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center from 2002 to 2009. Bonaguro has a master’s degree in public policy analysis from the University of California, Berkeley.

Bonaguro was part of Team San Francisco when it was honored in 2016 by Government Technology magazine* among the year’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in IT. As noted in a 2018 Government Technology profile of Bonaguro’s tenure in San Francisco, “significant work under Bonaguro’s leadership included a partnership with the controller’s office that yielded a data academy that trained more than 1,000 internal staff members; a DataScienceSF intervention program that sees civic data scientists helping departments function more efficiently with information; and shaping the current DataSF team that will continue the work and culture that she helped to establish.”

The state CDO position is part of the California Government Operations Agency. One year ago, Bonaguro posted an essay on in which she outlined a merger between CalData and the Office of Digital Innovation, called the Office of Data and Innovation.

“The proposed merger will work to improve Californians’ experience of their government through championing human-centered design, empowering use of data and evidence and demonstrating modern and agile use of technology and prototyping,” she wrote.

“The merger will create centers of excellence in user research, service innovation and data and analytics. Having these centers under one roof will supercharge our efforts to modernize practices across the state. It allows for deep expertise, while reducing collaboration barriers and saving money.”

*Government Technology is produced by e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.

Industry Insider — California Assistant Managing Editor Theo Douglas contributed to this report.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.