James Grant, a former Republican state House member from Tampa, is stepping down as Florida’s Chief Information Officer on July 1 after a three-year stint in the job.
In a three-page letter sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Grant outlined a list of accomplishments, including building up a cybersecurity structure, aiding disaster response after Hurricane Ian and transitioning from old infrastructure.
“The rest of the country has noticed Florida’s crucial advances in safeguarding our state and building a digital service that has positioned us as a model for other states,” Grant wrote. “I have no doubts the team we’ve built is prepared to take Florida to even greater levels of success.”
But Grant also nodded to Florida’s complicated history of building digital infrastructure within state government and the natural tendency for each agency to protect their turf and push back against a centralized technology agency, even while praising DeSantis for backing him.
“The life of a Chief Information Officer, especially in such a legacy and historically siloed environment, is the consistent discovery and delivery of bad news,” Grant stated in his Friday letter.
“Every time I briefed you on a problem or disruption within the Enterprise, without exception, you genuinely sought to understand the issue, let the data drive the conversation, expected solutions, and gave us everything we needed to get the job done.”
He also hinted that getting the new division within the Department of Management Services (DMS) off the ground the last three years ruffled some feathers, even as he thanked Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and DMS Secretary Pedro Allende.
“I understood from the outset that bureaucracy cannot distinguish between friction and drama, that robust and respectful conflict with the status quo is the lifeblood of innovation, and that I had to make a binary choice between making friends and making change,” Grant wrote. “With eyes open I chose to make change and never once reconsidered.”