Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that Michael Cockrill, Washington state’s chief information officer and the director of WaTech, will leave state service on Oct. 20 to start a new job in the private sector.
Rob St. John will serve as acting director while a search is conducted to replace Cockrill. St. John is a 32-year state employee who has held a number of top jobs in government technology. A native of eastern Washington, St. John was the chief information officer for the state's Department of Social and Health Services and most recently as deputy director in the office of the chief information officer under Cockrill.
Inslee appointed Cockrill as chief information officer January 2013 to oversee the state’s strategic vision for information technology. In July 2015, Cockrill also became director of Washington Technology Services, WaTech – an agency created to centralize state IT and improve services for the people of Washington through technology.
“Under Michael’s leadership Washington has become one of the most technologically advanced states in the nation,” Inslee said. “Under his direction WaTech has been highly focused on finding new and innovative ways to meet state technology needs, while enabling state agencies to evolve from outdated systems and processes. I thank Michael for his service, and my staff and I look forward to working with Rob in his new role.”
“I’ve been honored to spend the past four and a half years working with a highly talented team to help reinvent how technology can be used to deliver critical state services,” Cockrill said. “I leave with new appreciation of public service and with sincere gratitude for the people who wake up every morning and make the choice to serve.”
During his tenure as CIO and the director of WaTech, Cockrill:
- Oversaw the creation of the Washington State Office of CyberSecurity, which protects state networks from cyber threats and helps agencies recover from attacks.
- Worked to establish the Office of Privacy and Data Protection. The office has served as a focal point for privacy efforts in the state.
- Pushed for new ways to attract a younger generation of IT workers to state service, including the creation of “Holocracy,” an alternative organizational model.
Cockrill has built a team of nationally recognized leaders in cybersecurity, privacy and organizational governance who will continue to push for improving the technology that underpins all the critical services provided by the state.
Cockrill is leaving to join Altius Institute for Biomedical Science, which is working to reinvent computational biology. This is a return to the private sector for him. Before his state appointment, Cockrill spent 20 years in the private sector, including a nine-year stint with Microsoft. He also founded and built several technology start-ups