Palo Alto hires new chief information officer

Jonathan Reichental will begin work Dec. 13

City Manager James Keene has selected Jonathan Reichental to be Palo Alto's chief information officer, the city announced in a press release.

Reichental, currently chief information officer for O'Reilly Media, will serve as the leader of Palo Alto's information technology agency and the city's technology initiatives.

"Jonathan was the clear frontrunner in our recruitment," Keene said in the release. "He brings a combination of creative and entrepreneurial drive and skills and a commitment to taking city government to the forefront of public technology and innovation, befitting Palo Alto, the heartbeat of Silicon Valley."

Reichental, who will start his new position Dec. 13, will earn a salary of $180,000 and lead a staff of 30. His contract will go to the City Council for approval on Nov. 1.

"To participate in a city that is the source of so much world recognized technology innovation and a city management team deeply committed to supporting technology innovation as a platform for more effective government and citizen engagement made this a highly compelling opportunity," Reichental said. "Developing appropriate partnerships with Silicon Valley technology companies and beyond, and leveraging public sector advances such as open data and digital government, will be cornerstones of our approach."

Reichental previously served as Director of IT Innovation for PricewaterhouseCoopers and as a consultant with Avida Consulting in Ireland.

Karla Kane

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Like this comment
Posted by It's-About-Time
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

For $180K .. let's hope he actually delivers something. And let's hope his contract is for a fixed period of time, with the City being able to terminate without a major court case on its hands.

Clearly the City needs a lot of technological innovation. Let's see if this guy knows what a technology plan is, and if he manages to get one into review withing six months.

Like this comment
Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

Can he repair the SAP fiasco in a cost-effective manor? We shall see.

Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Hopefully the City of Palo Alto will start moving forward IT wise, the City is way behind the times in the IT area and far too many managers for years have resisted and complicated advancing forward towards the modern world. Hopefully the "Palo Alto process" will not rear it's ugly head as most often takes place.

Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

The city government is not the source of "world recognized technology innovation". The city government does not really participate in that, although the CIO here claims it by association, geographical association. I think $180K in this economy for a city CIO is going overboard.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm

The long-standing SAP contract has been a major fiasco from the beginning. Why?
Knowledgeable employees rant that it doesn't work properly then they must resort to SAP's forte. Charge megabucks to fix it with an added contract. Why did the city go to the then new company in this area - SAP when Oracle could have done the same thing and better. No one in the city administration has had the guts to look into this.
That pile of dirt under the civic rug is getting bigger.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

If they actually call him, or he asks to be called "Dr. Reichental" as it says in the press release, because they guy has an advanced degree then we will know we are in big trouble. Sounds like a Peter Sellers Stanley Kubrick character.

I actually cannot understand what exactly he does, from his quote, so give me a minute to get traction on this. I remember feeling sold out, however, when they gutted the arts and culture division -- people like Leon Kaplan, Suzanne Warren, Richard James are gone -- and added a website designer in house for $50,000 or so.

I guess I would say if we are getting our money's worth with our systems and software then you do need to pay top dollar to get a good public sector civil servant. I have no idea what the SAP thing people are alluding to here. But I also worry about government and public sector and our particular people capitulating to a corporate agenda and being public relations agents for particular companies, even the local private sector favorites. Like the pr boondoggle for the big search engine firm which had a contest and we fell for it hook line and sinker and there were city staff dancing and cavorting and acting barfingly cute to win some contest. I noticed a football broadcast the other day and the net you pull to catch the extra points attempt had an insurance company slogan on it. When we get to the point where the Mayor says "Please, fellow councilmembers, speak into your {BRAND NAME} microphone" I will know we are in trouble.

Welcome to Palo Alto, Jon, and thank you in advance for serving us.

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

>>"Can he repair the SAP fiasco in a cost-effective manor?"

I'm sure he can, any one can. Don't need a PhD, just a half dozen copies of "Quickbooks"

Like this comment
Posted by So-What's-The-Problem?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

> Can he repair the SAP fiasco in a cost-effective manor?

This issue of "SAP" comes into every discussion of City Hall problems, in one way or another. What never seems to come into play, however, is a clear statement of what is wrong with "SAP"?

For those who might not know, "SAP" is a large German software developer whose very expensive database, and applications modules were bought by the City some years ago. Since then, there have been never-ending rumors of "problems" with "SAP", but never any clear statement of the exact nature of the "problems", or what might be done to fix these "problems".

Experienced software developers will quickly tell you that the first thing one has to do to get a "big problem fixed" is to "define the problem". So, has anyone at City Hall actually sat down and produced a readable, meaningful, accurate, and comprehensive problem definition with "SAP"?

Can anyone claiming to be an "insider" or "retired" please step up to the line and try to answer any/all of these questions?

Like this comment
Posted by Retired
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

The press release calls this a "cabinet-level" position. Does that mean that Keane is now President of Palo Alto?

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

If Keene is now President of Palo Alto, maybe that explains why Assistant City Manager Pam Antil is now the city's Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Administrative Services Lalo Perez is now the city's Chief Financial Officer.

As far as SAP is concerned, here is an explanation from two years ago that has never been followed up by the press:

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community, on Dec 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm
If you really want to know why SAP is in the City, it goes back to the former Palo Alto head of IT, Rod Massey. He is now here:
Web Link
Hope that explains it, and hope someone in the press will follow up on this.

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