- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s chief information officer is stepping down next week to return to the private sector, Gov. Pat McCrory’s office said Monday.

Chris Estes, announced as the CIO at the outset of McCrory’s administration in January 2013, will join PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting, where he once worked.

McCrory considered Estes a key hire to help modernize the state’s historically disjointed information technology operations. The General Assembly followed McCrory’s wishes and in September turned Estes’ agency into a Cabinet-level department that had more power over IT decisions in state government. Estes was sworn in as an official Cabinet member just last month.

“Not only has he saved the taxpayers millions of dollars, the customer-first attitude he brought from his private sector experience has made it easier for individual citizens and small business owners to interact and do business with state government,” McCrory said in a release.

Estes, whose departure is effective Nov. 29, has been commuting weekly from the Charlotte area to work in Raleigh. In McCrory’s announcement, He thanked the governor and praised McCrory for focusing on using technology to be more efficient and effective.

Under Estes’ leadership, the state information technology agency created an “Innovation Center” for testing potential computer technology for government before the state made purchasing decisions.

Deputy State CIO Keith Werner will fill Estes’ duties as the acting state CIO.

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