BATON ROUGE – Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced today that Ruth Johnson will serve as the state’s Chief Information Officer. Johnson will replace Ed Driesse, who is retiring.
As former Secretary for Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services, Johnson helped lead the department’s reorganization and modernization efforts, designed to streamline the agency, decrease DCFS’ overall footprint, and implement new technology and systems to provide DCFS clients with more efficient and effective services.
For her efforts, Johnson was awarded the State Technology Innovator of the Year Award by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers for 2011. According to NASCIO, the award is given “to honor outstanding individuals who have made contributions to advance the state's technology policy agenda through the promotion of best practices, adoption of new technologies and advancements in service delivery.” (http://www.nascio.org/awards/sti/2011STI.cfm)
“First of all, I would like to thank Ed Driesse for his dedication and tireless service to the state of Louisiana,” Nichols said. “I couldn’t be happier that Ruth has decided to come back to serve the people of Louisiana. I know firsthand that she’s a proven innovator from our time together at DCFS, where she helped lead one of the largest departmental modernization and reorganization efforts in state government history. I know she will be a tremendous asset in our efforts to utilize smarter technologies to save taxpayer dollars.”
During her tenure at DCFS, Johnson identified more than $32 million in cost savings to the state and spearheaded a modernization of the department, which included creating web-based enrollments, migrating to electronic case files, and improving its customer service centers. Johnson oversaw the launch of a new central intake system for reports of child abuse or neglect. The system included a new toll-free number 1-855-4LA-KIDS manned 24 hours per day by child welfare specialists to ensure more consistent screening and decision making of child abuse and neglect reports statewide.
Under Johnson’s leadership, DCFS also launched its Common Access Front End, known as CAFÉ, to integrate business case management functionality across the agency’s programs. CAFÉ provides web-based access for DCFS staff, customers, service providers and stakeholders via web portals and brings DCFS’ disparate legacy systems under one umbrella. With CAFÉ, the agency aimed to make teleworking easier, allowing teleworkers to access cases and assignments from home offices, thereby providing relief to overloaded caseworkers, reducing the duplications of data entry and streamlining work processes.
Johnson stated, “Although my family has enjoyed our time in South Carolina, we have decided to come home to Louisiana. We have missed our extended family, friends and our state tremendously. We came to the decision as a family that there is no place we would rather live and work, and there is no place in the world that can compare to the people, culture, and beauty of Louisiana. My son will be applying to Southeastern Louisiana University in the fall. This is a great opportunity for us all, and I look forward to coming home and resuming my career in Louisiana state government.”
The state’s CIO heads the Division’s Office of Information Technology, and plays a major role on matters related to IT and IT resources, including policies, standards, hardware and software deployment, strategic and tactical planning, acquisition, management, and operations in keeping with industry trends.
As a member of the Commissioner of Administration’s management team, the CIO monitors e-government operations throughout state government and serves a key role in implementing the Commissioner’s initiatives to increase government efficiency and effectiveness.
Biography of Ruth Johnson
Ruth Johnson returns to Louisiana having most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, where her responsibilities included financial management of the state’s $5.5 billion Medicaid program.
Prior to that, Johnson served as Secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services for Gov. Bobby Jindal. During her tenure Johnson identified more than $32 million in cost savings to the state and spearheaded a modernization of the department, which included creating web-based enrollments, migrating to electronic case files, and improving its customer service centers. For her work at DCFS, Johnson was awarded the 2011 State Innovator of the Year Award by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
Johnson’s previous appointments include Undersecretary for Management and Finance at DCFS, and Deputy Undersecretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice where she was also responsible for overall financial management and oversight.
Johnson also previously served as OJJ’s Account Administrator, as well as an accountant manager at the Department of Corrections where she participated in the development of an audit, payment and approval process for the local housing of state inmates. Prior to joining the Department of Corrections, Johnson worked in the Division’s Office of Statewide Reporting and Accounting.
Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from Louisiana State University.