SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Today, Mayor London N. Breed and City Administrator Carmen Chu announced the retirement of Linda Gerull, San Francisco Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Department of Technology. Gerull assumed the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) in 2017. During her tenure, she has been a trailblazer and leader in the public digital space, having advocated for digital equity and efficiency across City departments. Gerull’s retirement is effective the end of January.
“Linda has been a steadfast and outstanding leader for the Department of Technology, and we will greatly miss her,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “She has led the Department through challenging times, including the COVID pandemic, and helped us through equally exciting opportunities, most recently APEC, in which her department’s work was instrumental in ensuring that a complex, international event occurred safely and securely. People like Linda don’t get the attention they deserve because too often the only time their departments are in the headlines is when something goes wrong – and Linda worked hard to ensure that didn’t happen. I wish her luck and thank her for her years of service.”
"I am proud of the legacy Linda leaves behind serving San Francisco. Focused on our core technology infrastructure, Linda has expanded the City's fiber backbone, implemented initiatives to improve reliability and resilience and has served us well as an early advocate for cyber security resources to protect vital city functions," said City Administrator Carmen Chu. "I am also honored to have worked alongside Linda during the COVID-19 pandemic where she effectively led the Department of Technology in standing up the City's COVID-19 Unified Command Emergency Operations Center with Emergency Management, seamlessly enabled virtual meeting tools, and connected core IT infrastructure to support the City's community learning hubs and mass testing and vaccination sites. Through the pandemic and beyond, Linda's vision and dedication to closing the digital divide led to historic investments in connecting underserved communities - in fact, today, over 15,000 units in over 100 affordable housing sites have been connected to high-speed internet as a result of the City's Fiber-to-Housing program. I will personally miss Linda's laughter and steady leadership and I congratulate her on her well-deserved retirement."
Linda Gerull demonstrated her commitment to digital equity by spearheading the Fiber to Housing program, an initiative to bring free high-speed internet to residents of San Francisco’s affordable housing buildings. Through her leadership, the fledgling program has become a national model and has connected over 15,000 units in over 100 affordable housing sites. Today, Fiber to Housing provides access beyond affordable housing, and #SFWifi is available in our downtown area as well as across a myriad of greenspaces throughout the city. This year, the Fiber to Housing program was awarded the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s “Good Governance” award. This critical work kept thousands of children and young adults connected when schools went online and all learning was remote.
Gerull worked diligently to transform the City’s IT infrastructure to support modern, cost-effective networks, telecom systems, and cloud service platforms. These improvements enabled the City to quickly pivot to allow City employees to telecommute and hold virtual public meetings only one week after the Mayor issued the 2020 COVID shelter-in-place order. Always looking for innovations that will make the largest impact, Gerull directed the development of an easy-to-use open-source software tool that empowers the Department of Elections to perform risk-limiting audits to validate election results thus safeguarding election fairness. She focused on cybersecurity by increasing cyber protections, improving technology resiliency, and revamping emergency preparedness with new process and continuity of operation plans.
Modernizing business systems was also Gerull’s mission and she focused on revolutionizing the way that the City’s criminal justice agencies coordinate case management through the Justice Tracking Information System, “JUSTIS.” Under Gerull’s leadership, the City effectively transitioned data from a 45-year-old criminal case management system to a comprehensive and modern data exchange hub platform. This work has streamlined case management and improved access to services among City criminal justice agencies and the public at-large, while saving taxpayers approximately $3 million dollars a year.
Gerull’s impact goes beyond just retiring the legacy mainframe, she implemented a multifaceted approach to achieve cost-effective technology, and retiring the legacy mainframe was just one of the strategic measures taken. She advocated for enterprise technology agreements that consolidated citywide purchases, decrease operational costs, and accelerate procurement processes for vital projects. Through the promotion of shared services and applications, the City successfully attained cost efficiency, optimized resources, and integrated business workflows, resulting in streamlined internal processes. These enhancements contributed to improved operations and performance within the city government, ultimately enhancing the delivery of services to residents.
Following Gerull’s retirement, Michael Makstman, the City’s Chief Information Security Officer, will serve as the Interim Director of DT starting on January 1, 2024. The City Administrator’s Office will lead a search process for the next Chief Information Officer (CIO).
“It has been both an honor and privilege to serve as the CIO for the City of San Francisco. My forty years in government technology is not just a career; it has been a commitment to service and improving and shaping the future of government. With a culture of excellent customer service, the Department of Technology accomplishes remarkable projects every day and I have been so proud to be a part of advancing quality services and systems for the benefit of our residents,” Gerull commented.
As the leader of an award winning and industry-recognized department, Gerull has also served as the Chair for the Institute of Technology Advisory Committee for the University of Washington-Tacoma and is the past President of the MIX CIO association for City and County CIOs. She was recognized with a 2023 CIO 100 Award in IT Innovation, a 2023 San Francisco Good Government Award and Government Technology’s 2022 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers award.