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Published: Friday, March 25, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Snohomish County technology director resigns

An audit last year bluntly criticized management of the department led by Larry Calter, citing poor communication.

EVERETT -- The man who headed Snohomish County's technology department as it became entangled in the county's larger political tensions last year is leaving his job.
Larry Calter's last day is April 1. Calter announced Wednesday his resignation as director of the county's Department of Information Services.
"We are sorry to see Larry go and we wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life in the private sector," Deputy Executive Gary Haakenson said. "We appreciate his three years of service to the county."
The county's tech department, which is overseen by Executive Aaron Reardon's office, employs more than 80 people and has an annual budget of about $18 million.
In a resignation letter, Calter said he admired Reardon and his administration for their "leadership, professionalism and business acumen."
Last year, a $50,000 audit by Moss Adams of Seattle criticized the management of county tech services. Using blunt language, auditors placed much of the blame on poor communication between Reardon's office and other elected leaders. The audit also found that information services appeared more attentive to computer problems for departments under Reardon's control.
In response to the audit, the County Council has changed the oversight of technology projects and programs to allow other county leaders more input. The goal is to better serve the public, county departments and the courts.
Calter, who was paid a $156,000 salary, previously headed up technology for the King County Metro transit system and had worked for T-Mobile.
Assistant DIS Director Michael Crovitz will take over as interim director. A nationwide search for a permanent replacement is possible, Haakenson said.
Retaining information technology staff at government salaries has been a challenge for the county, especially junior employees.
"We have been losing lower-level folks to private sector IT (information technology) businesses and we end up being a training ground of the private sector," Haakenson said. "We train them, get them going and they hire them away at a higher wage."
Calter isn't the only county employee to leave a prominent position lately.
This past Friday was Donna Ambrose's last day as the county's economic development program manager. Ambrose, a former spokeswoman for Reardon, said she was leaving to form an international consulting company. She had received a $106,000 county salary.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » County executive

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