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Food and Ag Technology Chief Peterson Announces Retirement

Agency Information Officer Rob Peterson of the California Department of Food and Agriculture has served in key leadership roles in the U.S. Air Force, the Defense Department and California state government, as well as in the private sector.

Rob Peterson, a veteran technology executive with a deep background in federal and state procurement, has announced his retirement from the agency information officer (AIO) role for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
Rob Peterson.
Rob Peterson
Peterson entered state government in March 2014, joining the California Department of Technology (CDT) as a consultant working on the “state’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ causes of project failures,” according to his LinkedIn profile. He is a retired federal Department of Defense staffer and spent well over a decade in the private sector, most recently as the owner of R.A. Peterson and Associates, before joining CDT.

From CDT, Peterson moved to CDFA, beginning as chief information officer. He served in that capacity for almost five years before being named acting AIO and then being given the permanent appointment to that role. Peterson was featured in an Industry Insider — California “One-on-One” interview in August 2021.

In a LinkedIn post last week, Peterson wrote: “Retiring, finally at 67 1/2 years old. Worked for 50 years, non stop, time to retire. Though likely going back into part time consulting. Still active within IEEE, so we’ll see. Just beat cancer, so looking forward to the future.”

In a LinkedIn post two months ago, Peterson indicated he had been dealing with health issues.

“Time to look forward,” he wrote. “Since 1975, I've been focused on the mission of the organization I was with, to the point of not looking at the health effects. Now, I'm 60 plus years older and feeling the effects, under the Medicare program. Having recent major cancer surgery, and additional cancer problems, I look back on my life. Most of the exposure comes from USMC service, and I would not ever change or regret that service. Other exposures are from Edwards AFB, another best time of my life with the best friends imaginable, no regrets.”

Peterson, according to his profile, has more than 22 years’ experience with the federal government, including the Department of Defense and others, specializing in “advanced engineering research, development, acquisitions and program/project and staff management.”

He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, having served as a flight test engineer and then, having earned the rank of major, as a deputy chief engineer and then deputy program manager. Peterson has a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from California State University, Sacramento and a Master of Science degree in computer engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

In the 2021 Industry Insider interview, Peterson was asked about his hobbies and interests. His reply: “I have students in federal universities that are working on their doctorates and I’m an adviser for them, and so I read a lot of dissertations. I help edit dissertations. I still get a lot of information from ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) on technology reports. Much more leading edge. Some of that stuff won’t hit the private sector for 20 to 30 years. Some stuff that I developed back in 1990 still hasn’t been released to the private sector. My enjoyment is more of that ... people would call it bleeding-edge technology.”

CDFA has not yet begun the recruitment for Peterson’s successor. The department’s chief information officer is Amar Hariharan, who was named to that role in November 2022. Hariharan was featured in an Industry Insider “One-on-One” interview in September.
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.