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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From Oakland to Chattanooga tech-focused C-suite roles are rising in popularity among city halls.

Why it matters: As the private sector raises expectations for fast and reliable services, the public sector is working to adapt, adding roles like chief technology officer, chief information officer, chief data officer, and chief analytics officer.

The big picture: Data is of growing significance to local administrators as they balance needs for transparency and interoperable systems with privacy and ethical concerns. 

What's happening: The relatively new roles are carving out different niches from city to city.

  • New York City CAO Kelly Jin has integrated data across agencies and developed a data-driven plan to address city issues, including identifying bad landlords. 
  • Miami CIO Mike Sarasti has built feedback opportunities for residents into the design of an online platform for more than 200 city services.
  • Detroit has a director of innovation and emerging technology, Kat Hartman, who uses data storytelling to standardize addresses and land parcels.

Between the lines: There is overlap across titles in different cities. For example, some CIO roles closely resemble other CTO roles.

  • CTO roles, for instance, can cover infrastructure managers, innovation gurus, operations visionaries, community-facing technologists, or some combination of the four. At their core, CTOs are often tech experts, steering the adoption of the latest advances.
  • CDOs, as another example, are data experts working to ensure effective use of data inside and outside city walls for public good

But, but, but: Implementing best practices from the private sector, like prioritizing customer service, involves more than adding another name to an org chart.

  • And innovation can't be limited to the "there’s-an-app-for-that" mentality.

The bottom line: These roles, in the most effective cases, help to recast government as a modern service provider that is responsive and anticipates what matters to residents.

Hollie Russon Gilman is a fellow at New America's Political Reform Program, Georgetown's Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation, and Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.

Go deeper

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

2 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."