The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 25, 2010
EDD tech chief leaving for CalPERS post

Dale Jablonsky, the Employment Development Department tech chief who said he'd quit if he failed to fix the department's technical troubles, is leaving for an executive officer job at CalPERS. He'll take his new post, replacing fund CIO Teri Bennett, on Aug. 2.

You may recall that Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, put Jablonsky on the spot during an Insurance Committee hearing in February examining $80 million in tech project cost overruns at the department. According to this Feb. 9 Bee report, this was how the hearing went for Jablonsky:

EDD technology boss Dale Jablonsky told legislators his department's systems currently run ancient COBOL programming language and they've been behind many of the delays in processing claims and getting checks out.

Modernization projects have also been stalled or delayed because scarce staff needed to be reassigned to prepare the state's systems for the string of federal benefit extensions, Jablonsky said. That includes projects funded with stimulus money.

But Calderon said that if EDD had met its own initial deadlines to modernize its systems, instead of missing them repeatedly, it could have been ready for the current unemployment crisis.

The assemblyman asked Jablonsky if he'll resign if he misses his next deadlines.

"Yes," Jablonsky said.

Several blog users sent The State Worker an e-mail that went out last week to EDD staff about Jablonsky's upcoming departure for CalPERS. We confirmed its authenticity with department spokeswoman Loree Levy before posting it, unedited, here:

From: Harris, Pam@EDD
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:39 AM
To:
Subject: IT Branch Deputy

It is with mixed emotions I share with you the news that our Information Technology Branch Deputy Director, Dale Jablonsky, has accepted an Executive Officer position at CalPERS. Fortunately Dale will be with us for a few more months while we work on a leadership transition plan, and will begin his new job effective August 2nd, after 26 years of dedicated EDD service.

As the EDD CIO over the past 6 years, Dale's visionary, innovative, and enthusiastic leadership has been instrumental in initiating substantial technology change and improvements throughout the EDD service delivery landscape, including IT Governance, Enterprise Architecture, IT Budget transparency, and IT Portfolio Management. EDD has been able to launch many new IT Projects that will allow a major business transformation across the entire Department, moving EDD towards more self service and e-Government capabilities. Dale's vision has positioned EDD as a leader in state government in implementing best practices and enterprise initiatives.

This has been a very difficult decision for Dale to leave his EDD family but the opportunity at CalPERS is too good to pass up. Between now and August 2, Dale will continue to be fully engaged in the UI e-Government projects (CCCW and e-Apply Mod) to insure their successful implementation. He will also be finalizing the ITB reorganization plan and its implementation, in order to position the EDD IT Branch to successfully complete our portfolio of IT projects, by instituting a successful project management and project delivery support structure .

Both Dale and I are relieved to share that Mike Howland will assume the role of EDD's Acting IT Deputy Director over the next two months and will continue to serve in that capacity as long as needed over the next several months. Mike previously served as a Division Chief in ITB and has held CIO positions in other State departments, and brings strong leadership coupled with knowledge and experience with EDD's programs and IT environment. We believe this interim appointment will provide the stability and leadership needed to progress forward with our numerous and complex IT projects without disruption. Working with Mike during this period, with input from Dale and the IT leadership team, I am confident that EDD will be able to sustain all of the EDD IT Project momentum while putting in place leadership for the longer term.

I have worked in various capacities with Dale over his 26 years with EDD, and have always had great confidence in his knowledge, insight, vision, and leadership. Although from a selfish perspective I would prefer that he stay with EDD, I fully support him in his decision to pursue this career change.

A major focus for me over the next two months will be to work closely with Dale and Mike to ensure continuity in leadership so that we continue on our current path of modernization in essentially all program areas through the application of innovative technologies that will carry us through the next decade.

Please join me in congratulating Dale on his upcoming appointment and welcoming Mike to the Executive Team.

Pam Harris
Chief Deputy Director

We asked Levy if Jablonsky's departure was in advance of any looming deadlines that might be missed. Here's her e-mailed response, unedited:

Hi Jon and thanks for your patience while I ran down some details for you. Here are the basic reasons for Dale Jablonsky's move to CalPERS, which happens to be a great opportunity for Dale. We will certainly miss him here at EDD.

  • Current CalPERS CIO, Teri Bennett, decided to retire June 30 after 37 years of State service, opening up a very coveted CIO position in State Government.
  • CalPERS is one of the best run State organizations with a track record of significant accomplishment and allows Dale an opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in State service.
  • CalPERS is in the midst a very large and highly complex legacy reengineering project of their own that makes Dale an ideal candidate.
  • Most of EDD's legacy reengineering projects have completed their hardest phases, IT Procurement and Legislative approval, and are well established and on their way to successful completion. EDD's Information Technology Branch has hired 261 new IT staff over the past 16 months to meet the staffing needs of the reengineering projects.
  • Dale is delaying his CalPERS transition by 2 months to ensure the maximum EDD success on their current IT Project Portfolio.
  • EDD's most high profile project (in the eyes of the legislature recently), the UI Call Center Upgrade project, begins implementation this week. Full implementation is expected by the end of 2010, a full four months ahead of completion schedule. The project will be upgrading our call center infrastructure and will provide more automated capabilities for our customers including phone certifications, as well as route calls more effectively to help us answer calls during peak periods.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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