Council Looks for New IT Chief, More Developer Fees

City officials admit that San Jose’s IT department tails behind other Silicon Valley municipalities, and to change that they want a new department head. In questions geared toward candidates applying for the role of chief information officer, the City Council asks how the applicants plan to make San Jose more competitive and how to improve data access to the public.

“Although we call our city the ‘Capital of Silicon Valley,’ San Jose is a laggard not a leader in using information and communications technology to improve employee efficiency and productivity,” the council says. “Why is this and what should we do about it?”

The council also wants to know what the new department head would do to increase open access to government data.

“Other cities are gaining prominence for leading or actively participating in the open data movement, and are making government datasets easily accessible to the public. Describe your views on how important this is for San Jose, and the potential role of the IT Department in pursuing open data strategies or projects.”

They ask how one would deal with the city’s high employee turnover rate.

“Workforce turnover has been a significant challenge impacting the Information Technology Department as well as other City departments. Please describe how this affects the Department services and your approach to managing this issue. Specifically, what will you do to attract and retain top talent?”

And what if the chief IT guy or gal’s professional opinion isn’t welcomed by elected policymakers?

“How would you deal with a recommendation that, in your professional judgment should be made, but which you know may be unpopular with the Mayor and City Council?”

Vijay Sammeta currently serves as acting department chief, until the city hires a permanent IT head for a salary around $170,000. The questions go before the council for approval before candidates are screened during closed-session interviews.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for April 23, 2013:

• The city’s looking for companies to bid on a $10 million project to expand a major taxiway at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. The council has to first grant the Director of Public Works the right to choose the lowest responsible bidder.

San Jose is building an Environmental Innovation Center at 1608 Las Plumas Ave., but it needs to revise a lease-agreement with the county. Construction delays are are going on four months now. Once the center opens early next year, it will include a hazardous household waste collection facility operated by the county.

City Auditor Sharon Erickson’s contract comes up for renewal every four years. The council has to OK any contract changes, including a raise, which this time would work out to a 2.5-percent increase to $174,100 a year.

• As the Food and Drug Administration plans to impose more regulations on the sale of menthol cigarettes, the council is poised to vote on a resolution supporting increased federal restrictions on flavored tobacco. The argument is that minty and other fruit-flavored tobacco is a little too tempting to youngsters.

• Councilmembers Sam Liccardo, Don Rocha and Xavier Campos put together a draft resolution against the Supreme Court’s decision to grant corporations free speech rights under the First Amendment.

• When a developer builds within city limits, it legally owes the city some parkland to create open space for the bump in population. If the development doesn’t dedicate actual parkland, it can opt to pay a fee. But the city needs to raise its parkland fees to better reflect current land values spelled out in the 2010 U.S. Census. The proposed resolution going before the council will up fees for developers in seven of the 14 assessed zones and lower them in one.

WHAT: San Jose City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: Office of the City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Santa Clara County is building the Environmental Innovation Center (EIC) in San Jose. The county, in fact, will lease space in the property.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


    • You’re missing 3 zeros… it’s $1,700,000,000.00 for the makeover.  There’s $300M of debt prior to that also… but that’s “old” news.

      They hope to get $3M/year with the Google deal but, of course, WANT to spend $10M before that deal even goes through.  The Google plan would take like 560 years to pay off just the principal.  By cutting police and fire personnel and replacing them with contract public safety AND Google contract, it would “only” take 180 years- again just the principal.

      The leaders of San Jose continue to minimize the ridiculous debts created by Redevelopment and SJC; preferring to place blame on their own employees’ benefits.  Shameful.

      • Sorry for the typo…there were so many 0’s I lost count. The bottom line is that our city council is out of control and out of touch when it comes to spending money. I am beginning to see that it is not the employees and pension funds that is causing these problems but elected officials who feel they can spend and spend and spend. The pension issue is tiny compared to what is happening at the airport and other city projects not including what it will and has cost us, the tax payers, should the A’s move to San Jose and continues to cost us daily.

  1. That is why we are circling the drain. The taxpayer’s money is mismanaged. It’s like they have the money but cannot understand where the priorities are…so they use it up on projects where things can either wait or are unnecessary. Get some people in there who know how to manage the money correctly and the city will come back.

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