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CIO Gass Leaving EDD, Taking New Role in Rancho Cordova

The longtime state government technology executive will begin on Oct. 2 as the city’s first chief technology and innovation officer.

The words "Employment Development Department" on the outside of a gray building.
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Rita Gass, the technology leader for one of the largest departments in California state government, is departing for a new role with a suburban city near Sacramento.

Rita Gass headshot.
Rita Gass
Gass, who has been chief information officer for the Employment Development Department since April 2020, will start her new role as Rancho Cordova’s chief technology and innovation officer on Oct. 2, she told Industry Insider — California. Her last day with EDD will be Oct. 1.

The CTIO position is a new one for the city, which has a population of about 81,000.

The role of municipal tech leader is also a new one for Gass, who began her service in state government in 1997 — at EDD, where she ultimately wound up. In the intervening years, she progressed from IT professional for EDD to network and system administrator for the state Franchise Tax Board. From there, she served as senior systems engineer and then technical project manager for the California Energy Commission before being named to her first chief information officer position, with the California Conservation Corps, in 2008.

Gass was then named CIO for the California Secretary of State’s Office before moving to the EDD CIO role, coming full circle to the department where she began her career with the state.

The longtime tech exec is a familiar figure in the California gov tech community. She has been a frequent speaker and panelist at industry briefings, conferences and forums, most recently at this summer’s State of Technology California Industry Forum in Sacramento. She and fellow panelist Jacob “Jake” Johnson, CIO of the Department of Rehabilitation, spoke about accessibility and equity in government technology.

Last year, Gass was featured in a Government Technology* article about EDD’s challenges — specifically, massive fraud and service backlogs during the pandemic, exacerbated by outdated and sluggish technology. Gass, that article noted, “offered an almost dizzying update” on how the state is improving its unemployment system. “Gass counted some 200 IT projects over the last 18 months in her department — a good indication of all the work that needs to be done,” it said.

Gass was part of a state government team that was named to Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2016. She was also the recipient of a National Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Information Technology in State Government from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in 2014.

Gass is a graduate of the University of San Agustín in the Philippines, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in economics; and the University of Phoenix, where she earned her Master of Science degree in computer information systems.

Industry Insider — California will have more next week about Gass, her new role and her perspectives on her more than 25 years in state government.

*Government Technology is a sister publication to Industry Insider — California; both are part of e.Republic.
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.