Gov. Hochul’s Indian-American technology czar resigns  

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s CTO Rajiv Rao. Photo: Linkedin.com @rajiv-rao

Rajiv Rao, the Chief Technology Officer and Executive Deputy Chief Information Officer, resigned recently as investigations into his dealings with Acting Budget Director Sandra L. Beattie in the handling of state contracts, by New York’s state’s inspector general. Beattie has also resigned.

Credited with being hired back in 2012 to be the main architect of a statewide data center consolidation, Rao “has not been accused of any wrongdoing, though the inspector general’s investigation remains open,” Govtech.com reported. Rao became CTO during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

In early April, several news outlets reported Rao’s resignation. Govtech.com on April 6, said with key employees leaving the Information Technology Services office, new hires were already being put in place.

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Originally from Chennai, Rao boasts a stellar resume on his Linkedin profile. He has been in the New York administration as CTO since 2015, and in 2018, the National Association of State CIOs awarded him the State Technology Innovator Award. In 2022, he was recognized among Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers Award by Government Technology.

The Albany Times-Union first reported his resignation in late March, when Rao took an extended leave of absence, after which he said he would step down.

Statesscoop.com reported April 7, that Rao, who had been on extended voluntary leave since early March, submitted his resignation March 24, ending 11 years of service to New York State.

Among the contracts under review is the one with Excelsior Pass for the COVID-19 vaccination app rolled by New York in 2021, Govtech reported.

Datacenterdynamics.com, where on April 9, 2019, Rao was the keynote speaker in the ‘Lightning Plenary’ on the subject “Evolve or Die-How We Right-sized IT Infrastructure to Fit The Age of Ubiquitous Computing,” noted Rao’s 23-plus years as a IT executive, adding that as CTO in New York, “Rajiv is dedicated to leading New York State’s innovative technology solutions and roadmap. He is responsible for the building and operation of all core infrastructure services, engineering, architecture, and advancing standards, as well as exploring long-term technology objectives that deliver enormous value to NYS such as containerization, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.”

It goes on further to note, “Rajiv was the chief architect of the design and build of New York State’s Excelsior Cloud, the primary consolidated data center located in the largest zero energy, multi-use facility in the world. The Excelsior Cloud provides high levels of resiliency and security.”

In an April 15, 2023, article, New York Times reported that a cellphone that Beattie had handed over upon resigning, had been wiped clean, and that two unnamed sources had told the Times it was given to her by Rao.

“In separate interviews with The New York Times, Ms. Beattie said she was never told why she was pushed out, and Mr. Rao said that once his department informed him of the inspector general investigation, he decided to go on vacation and eventually resign,” the Times said in its report.

Rao’s education in Chennai included expertise in electronics and telecommunication engineering. He also studied at the Deloitte CIO Academy.

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