Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins will step down later this month to join Microsoft Consulting.
Collins has worked for the state for 20 years, the last six as head of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information. At Microsoft Consulting, he will focus on state and local government, and higher education.
His departure comes a little more than a week after the state announced it would invest $20 million in technology and service grants to help make sure that broadband service is available statewide, especially for school children. Collins had championed approaching the problem of rural broadband deserts through focusing on wireless transmission by mounting equipment on existing towers, instead of building another expensive infrastructure. That’s what the state has done.
“I have been blessed with amazing opportunities in the course of my career,” Collins said in a press release, “so I am excited for this next step to continue helping governments and institutions of higher learning transform to deliver digital services on a national scale.”
He is the third Delaware department head to resign this summer. Dr. Kara Odom Walker quit as head of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services to work for the Nemours Health System in Washington D.C. Jennifer Cohan, secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, is leaving that job to become CEO of Delaware Leadership.
Gov. John Carney said in a press release that Collins’ expertise has never been more important than during the six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“James and his team have kept state workers connected throughout this crisis, making sure they could continue to deliver vital services to Delaware families,” Carney said. “He has worked with the private sector to expand high-speed broadband service across rural Delaware and to protect Delawareans from cyber threats. We will miss James’ leadership but wish him well at Microsoft.”
Jason Clarke, chief operating officer at DTI, will serve as acting CIO. Carney will nominate a new chief information officer before the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2021.
Collins, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, also served as director of the Division of Professional Regulation, deputy secretary of state, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jack Markell.
Notable achievements under Collins’ leadership include expanding broadband high-speed Internet service and working to eliminate broadband deserts across the state by the end of this year. Collins also fulfilled multiple executive orders including creating the Delaware Cyber Security Advisory Council, expanding the State Open Data/Open Checkbook portal, and advancing IT centralization and virtualization cloud-based “as-a-Service” solutions.
In 2019, Collins was elected as president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and continues to serve on its executive committee.