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Insider Takes: State Rehabilitation CIO on Procurement Philosophy, Projects

The IT leader at a key state department talked to Industry Insider — California about ongoing initiatives and potential procurements this year.

A group of people walking down the sidewalk talking and laughing, with one person in an electric wheelchair.
California Department of Rehabilitation
The chief information officer for the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), one of the many entities under the umbrella California Health and Human Services Agency, discussed IT work recently with Industry Insider — California, offering details on potential procurements and his approach to the job.

Jacob “Jake” Johnson is DOR’s chief information officer and a deputy director, roles he has had since December. A 22-year state employee, Johnson entered state service in March 2001 as an associate systems analyst at the California Department of Finance, where he worked for more than eight years before joining the California Franchise Tax Board as an information security technical specialist. He remained in that role for more than three years before joining DOR in August 2012 as a senior business analyst. Prior to being named CIO, Johnson was DOR’s IT manager for the customer service and administration branch for nearly three years.

Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in teaching international languages, both from California State University, Chico. He is also a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and a graduate of the California IT Leadership Academy.
In a video interview with Industry Insider California on Feb. 16 at the California Public Sector CIO Academy*, Johnson discussed his process around procurement — of being a “small-bets guy,” examining well-understood problems and challenges and convening the right people to consider them and share ideas. From there, Johnson said, the strategy is to identify a minimum viable product (MVP) and to keep iterating on it.

Potential procurements for DOR this year may include seeking assistance as DOR migrates to the Department of Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal), as the department is roughly in the middle of a two-year process to accomplish just that. It’s also likely, the CIO said, that an ongoing effort to streamline the case management process and improve it for consumers may yield a procurement.

“We’re looking also at our other legacy systems to see, once we move our financial systems and our procurement and our hardware asset management and some of the things that are going into FI$Cal, it’s possible that other efforts may carry on from those, our other mainframe systems that we have,” Johnson told Industry Insider.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.