By David Bicknell
New York’s recent problems with IT projects have been well documented.
Its latest solution: appoint a new CIO, with a wide remit that includes innovation and the setting up of a ‘centre of excellence’ to nail down failing projects.
Rahul Merchant joins with a background served at US mortgage and housing specialist Fannie Mae and at financial services company Merrill Lynch.
He will become the first Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications reporting to New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg.
His role will involve overseeing New York’s information technology development and management, with a focus on delivering technology projects on-time and on-budget.
Merchant will succeed Carole Post, who recently announced she will be leaving for a position at New York Law School.
“By bringing the City’s IT infrastructure and development under one office, we can ensure we are using best practices across agencies, leveraging the City’s enormous IT infrastructure to our maximum advantage and holding contractors accountable for delivering results,” said Bloomberg. “Rahul is a seasoned executive who has proven himself time and again as a leader and an innovator in the industry. He is going to do an outstanding job as New York City’s first Chief Information and Innovation Officer and we are excited to add him to our talented team.”
Merchant will be responsible for New York City’s IT infrastructure, as well as oversight of the implementation of key technology initiatives that enable the City’s various agencies to serve 8.4 million New Yorkers.
What will be worth watching is seeing how he tackles New York’s reputation for troubled IT projects by creating a Centre of Excellence that will “standardise business processes for the implementation of large technology projects, institute a system of vendor evaluation to hold contractors accountable for meeting project milestones, and update the City’s technology contracts to focus on the delivery of established milestones to meet agency business needs.”
According to Bloomberg, Merchant will work closely with agency commissioners and chief information officers “to ensure that IT projects leverage existing infrastructure and software to the maximum possible extent, and that the City’s overall IT budget meets core agency business needs and the City’s overall technology objectives.”
He will also spearhead the New York’s efforts to remain a leader in technology innovation, by leveraging its technology assets and partnerships with academic institutions, technology firms, and entrepreneurs.
He won’t be short of people to help. Merchant will lead a 1,200-strong staff responsible for managing the City’s information technology infrastructure as well as serving the information technology needs of 45 mayoral agencies, dozens of other governmental entities, and nearly 300,000 employees.
Here’s how local sites reported Merchant’s appointment:
Crain’s New York Business: Major taps Merrill Lynch vet to tame tech projects
Tech President: New York City just radically changed who manages its IT projects
Government Technology: NYC names Rahul Merchant to CIO and Innovation role