December 19, 2000, 10:10 AM — Paul Quade knows when his story will end.Just under a year from now, on Feb. 28, 2001, he'll step down from his 18-month term as the state of Colorado's first cabinet-level CIO. And by then, as a direct result of his change leadership efforts, the state's government IT systems will either be more efficient, more effective, more customer-friendly than ever for the state's employees, citizens and businesses -- or they won't. It's as simple as that, and either way Quade's out the door. Problem is, although Quade knows precisely when his story will end, how he gets there is the real trick. And it all hinges on the answer to one key question: Can a temporary CIO effect permanent change?
Quick-fix turnarounds and temporary CIOs aren't new concepts, even in government, but Colorado's take on them is unique. Not only is the state attempting to reinvent IT operations through a new, central CIO, and not only is Quade, 53, the first person to fill this role. But it's also Quade's first CIO job, and he's doing it as a loaned executive on an 18-month leave from his real job as director of data center planning and engineering at the Denver office of Galileo International, a Chicago-based travel services provider. The state's goal is to use Quade's industry perspective and business best practices to make the most of Colorado's IT investment. Quade's challenge, beginning last September, is to be a catalyst for change. He must align 20 disparate state agencies, enable information flow between these agencies and the citizens they serve, consolidate the state's IT purchases and services, and find his own successor. All before Feb. 28, 2001.
"When I first took this job, my wife asked, 'Why are you doing this?'" Quade says, and he really had to consider his answer. "I certainly didn't do this for political or career reasons," he says. In fact, he expresses no desire to parlay this job into a permanent CIO position elsewhere. Instead -- and he knows this sounds "mom and apple pie," but he means it -- his main concern is for his adopted home, the state of Colorado. "I want to use my expertise and talents to make Colorado a better place to live and to do business," Quade says. "Selfishly, I'd like to look back in 10 years and know I helped create changes that made a difference."