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City hires its first information technology chief

For a city government in the center of Silicon Valley, it was becoming obvious that the city's information technology wasn't up to snuff.

So earlier this year the City Council created a new, $173,000-a-year department head position to lead the 15-person information technology department. The department had been run by the city's finance director, who obviously has her hands full with the city's finances.

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, the city manager's office announced that Mountain View resident Roger Jensen has been hired for the job. Jensen, a 25-year veteran of Silicon Valley tech world, is currently senior vice president of technical operations for Symphony Health Solutions.

"I found out about it back in May in an article in your paper," Jensen told the Voice. "The city has been conservative in its investment in technology, and the City Council said, 'We want to make it a key investment.' I was really excited by that."

Generally speaking, Jensen said he sees the job as one that would make city employees' jobs easier and provide more convenient access for residents to city services.

"Things that other cities are doing that we could provide include electronic permitting. Right now we have to go and get permits from City Hall. Different services that require a trip to City Hall could be be available via the city's website," he said.

Jensen said there were possibilities for making data more accessible and the city government more transparent. A top complaint among council members and reporters is the fact that the contents of city staff reports -- a main resource for information about the city's actions -- cannot be searched online. Jensen said he is hoping to find "some quick wins" in improving the city information technology, Making city staff reports searchable may be one. "Obviously there is technology out there that can do that," he said.

City manager Dan Rich explained why Jensen was hired in a statement, saying, "Roger has the perfect combination of technical and interpersonal skills to lead the new IT Department. His collaborative style, management skills, and understanding of Silicon Valley will allow us to enhance our internal operations and technology services to the public in a cost effective manner."

In explaining why the position be created, Rich pointed out that as the home to some of the world's leading technology companies, Mountain View has a very tech-savvy constituency. "I felt it was time to take our City's technology services to the next level with focused, senior leadership of this critical function," he said.

Jensen lives in Mountain View with his wife and daughter, and is involved in the Mountain View-Los Altos Girls Softball League. He began his IT career as a software engineer for Sunquest Systems, and has held various roles in the development, marketing and purchasing of software and technology for Silicon Valley companies, including as vice president of engineering for software company ViewCentral, Inc.

He received his master's degree in business administration from Santa Clara University in 2000 and has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota.

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