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Food and Ag Department Names IT Veteran Peterson as New AIO

Rob Peterson, who worked in the private sector before joining state government in 2014, had been the chief information officer for the California Department of Food and Agriculture for almost five years before being named agency information officer this month.

Rob Peterson.
Rob Peterson
Rob Peterson, a veteran of public-sector IT management, has been named agency information officer (AIO) for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Peterson had been the department’s chief information officer (CIO) for almost five years before being named to the new role.

The Folsom resident served in the U.S. Air Force before entering the private sector in 1998, affiliating  with Logicon and Stanfield Systems in consulting and ownership roles, then operating R.A. Peterson and Associates from 2003 to 2014.

Peterson joined the California Department of Technology in 2014 and served as a “consultant addressing State’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ causes of project failures,” according to his LinkedIn profile, before moving to CDFA in 2016 and taking the CIO role.

Peterson succeeds Jennifer Chan, who was Food and Agriculture’s AIO before moving to the CIO position at the California State Lottery in January. 

Because CDFA is a department of state government and also a state Cabinet-level agency, it has both an AIO and a CIO. In an interview with Techwire in March 2020, Chan discussed the structure of CDFA’s IT leadership.

She said then that as AIO, “my focus is on how I can better strategically position my IT organization to be more flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of our business while thinking forward to how we can leverage innovations in technology. My CIO’s focus is on ensuring that as an IT organization, we can operationally support those strategic initiatives. Together, it’s critical that we work lockstep as our work efforts and priorities are so closely aligned and are complementary to each other.”

When the department was recruiting for Chan’s successor, the job description noted that the AIO “provides centralized oversight for the local area network and wide area network (LAN/WAN) systems and is responsible for the development, codification and distribution of all department IT policies, standards, practices and procedures and coordinates and prepares all mandated IT reporting requirements.”

In his new role, Peterson will also have responsibility for policy oversight and strategic planning.   

Peterson received his bachelor of science degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Cal State Sacramento and his master of science degree in computer engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology. He is working on a second master’s degree from Sac State in computer engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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.