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New Santa Monica CIO Hails from Long Beach

The municipal chief information officer will join the city in December from Long Beach Utilities, where she is manager of Information Services.

Santa Monica, Calif., City Hall
Santa Monica, Calif., City Hall
One of Southern California’s best-known beach cities will have a new technology leader next month.

The city of Santa Monica has named SoCal technologist Paula Crowell as its new chief information officer and head of its Information Services Department, after a national recruitment. Crowell has been manager of Information Services at Long Beach Utilities, which provides water, gas and sewer services, since December 2021. Her previous roles include serving as IT manager at the city of Temecula and as IT director at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission in Washington, D.C., an independent agency established in 1997 to advise Congress on Medicare issues. Her first day in Santa Monica will be Dec. 18.
CIO Paula Crowell.
Santa Monica Chief Information Officer Paula Crowell

In a statement, Santa Monica City Manager David White, who announced Crowell’s appointment Monday, said she is a “talented and experienced leader who brings a wealth of hands-on technical knowledge” to the city.

“With her at the helm, I’m confident the department will continue to find innovative ways to enhance and streamline city services,” said White, describing technology as “a cornerstone that allows us to serve the community more efficiently and effectively.”

Crowell’s predecessor, former Santa Monica CIO Joseph Cevetello, moved on in May after nearly seven years in the role. Eight-year Chief of Staff Christopher Smith has served as acting CIO since Cevetello’s departure, Santa Monica’s communications and public information manager, Lauren G. Howland, said in an email to Industry Insider. Smith’s initiatives as chief of staff have included introducing hybrid work policies and working with Information Services on the secure, cloud-based architecture and solutions to support them.

It’s not yet clear what the incoming CIO’s early priorities will be and which IT projects she will inherit, but Cevetello told Industry Insider in a One-on-One interview in September 2022 that Santa Monica was finishing its first responder computer dispatch system, looking at modernizing permitting, and pursuing a cloud-first strategy. “When I arrived, everything was on premises. We’re now majority-cloud, and I want to be about 80 percent cloud,” he said then. In April 2022, during Cevetello’s tenure, Santa Monica was recognized with a CIO 100 Award for another key undertaking: Project Connect, a data platform that lets front-line staff expedite services for the homeless.

As incoming CIO and head of city Information Services, Crowell will lead 50 staffers and oversee a budget of $13 million. Information Services’ responsibilities include cybersecurity, software engineering, CityNet municipal broadband services, Santa Monica’s open data program, the city website and the Santa Monica mobile app.

In a statement, Crowell said she is “eager to use my skills and expertise to drive innovation, digital transformation, and efficient technology solutions to address the city’s challenges and enhance the quality of life in Santa Monica.”

“I look forward to collaborating with the talented city team and partnering with the community to ensure Santa Monica continues to be a model of innovation and sustainability in the digital age,” said Crowell, who has a bachelor’s degree in information systems from the University of Maryland and is a licensed Project Management Professional by the Project Management Institute. Her annual salary will be $223,836, the city said.

Industry Insider has reached out to Cevetello and to Crowell for comment; this article may be updated.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.