CIO Sessions: Chris Vein, City of San Francisco

CIO Sessions: Chris Vein, City of San Francisco

Summary: San Francisco's CIO Chris Vein calls himself an "accidental CIO." His background includes working in and around the White House during Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.

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TOPICS: Storage
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San Francisco's CIO Chris Vein calls himself an "accidental CIO." His background includes working in and around the White House during Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. For the city of San Francisco, Vein's political background has turned out to be an important asset. He is the first CIO of the city and county of San Francisco, which has a 150-year history of having individual departments that don't necessarily work well together, which isn't all that dissimilar from corporations with various fiefdoms...or government agencies.

"What I am trying to do is take 60 different departments within the city, and varying degrees of technology, varying degrees of control, and varying degrees of money and trying to come up with a common plan for the city and then based on that plan, come up with a rational way of identifying what we should be spending our money on and how we are going to spend it," Vein told me during video interview. He is applying his team of 330 people and about a $100 million budget to transform the operations of the city.

During our interview, Vein also shares his plans to upgrade outdated ERP systems, provide e-government for the people of San Francisco, bridge the digital divide and deliver affordable, municipal Wi-Fi Internet access to city residents.


Watch the interview

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Topic: Storage

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  • Just What We Need: More "Free" Government Service

    Mr. Vein seems like a nice-enough guy, a thoughtful and intelligent speaker. BUT (there's always a "but"), when I hear people like him talk about fulfilling a political goal to provide "free" internet to all San Franciscans, I think about how much all this free service is ultimately going to cost taxpayers. There's no free lunch, as the saying goes, and that certainly is true with government. If San Francisco is as efficient with taxpayer dollars as the Federal government is in Washington, this free internet service will cost San Francisco tax payers 20% more than it would if they paid for it themselves.

    Mr. Vein is a political animal who apparently understands the importance of helping a blatantly liberal mayor of the city fulfill the perceived need to provide 200,000 citizens with this so-called "free" access to the internet. Maybe it should occur to these guys that if the private sector hasn't jumped in by now to do the same thing for less money, then maybe there really aren't enough citizens really interested in internet access and the whole thing isn't a profitable idea.

    Oh. Right. This is government.
    HeadlessHorseman
  • Vein CIO Fluff Video

    I would have liked to have seen a more thoughtful set of follow-up questions from Dan Farber. The Vein is calling a 16 year Franchise a public private parternership. The last Franchise Vein's department worked on was extending the vary unsatisfactory Comcast cable contract.

    How can we trust Vein to hold EarthLink and Google accountable when his department has a track record of not doing this for other franchises?

    Lastly, Mr. Vein neglects to mention one of the most successful city owned and run information services - your public library - which by the way also protects the privacy of your check-out records.
    kimo9