UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Council approved the appointment of Wanda Gibson as the director of the Office of Information Technology and accepted the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Alternative Construction Financing program on Oct. 15.
Gibson previously served as the chief technology officer/chief information officer of Fairfax County, Virginia. She had been serving as the acting director of the Prince George’s County Office of Information Technology since July 18, after being recruited by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“She has more than 20 years of experience leading technology in Fairfax County…she is extremely well-regarded,” Alsobrooks said at the time. The county executive said Gibson’s origins in Prince George’s County and her reputation in the information technology (IT) industry were reasons to recruit her.
During the meeting, Floyd Holt, Prince George’s County deputy chief administrative officer for the environment, and Michael Dent, Fairfax County chief information officer, spoke on Gibson’s behalf. They both called her the best fit for the job and a trendsetter for IT leadership.
“She (Wanda Gibson) is considered one of the best and smartest women in IT and has the longest standing career as a CTO/CIO in our industry,” Dent said. “Wanda’s commitment to leadership staff and the citizens goes beyond what I have seen very few ever strive to be. Her focus on the mission of serving the customers and citizens in unparalleled.”
While serving as acting director, Gibson said she gained valuable insight and shared her thoughts on where Prince George’s County should go in the IT industry as well as worked on several important initiatives.
“Technology is the essential means for delivering on public policy and the relationship between government and the people it serves,” she said. “As I continue my assessment of IT capabilities, inventory needs and performance, we will also examine IT marketplace and practices with a look to the future and develop a profile to reconfirm Prince George’s County as one to watch with innovative thought leadership and action in digital and cyber.”
Approved unanimously by the county council as the director of the Office of Information Technology, Gibson said her main focus moving forward would be to modernize the Prince George’s County website and 311 portal. According to officials, those are the main ways the county interacts with its residents daily.
Additionally, cybersecurity is of the utmost concern to her regarding policies and practices and she wants to establish a closer working relationship with various county entities.
Gibson said she was “honored at her consideration for appointment” and thanked the county for their approval.
Also, during the meeting, the council approved a letter to PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson in support of their Alternative Construction Financing (ACF) program.
The Education and Workforce Development Committee was briefed by Goldson and other members of the PGCPS executive team on their fiscal years 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and their new ACF program on Oct. 2.
The ACF program was approved by the PGCPS Board of Education in September and would utilize a public-private partnership to build six new middle schools: Drew-Freeman Middle School, Hyattsville Middle School, Kenmoor Middle School, Walker Mill Middle School and new buildings in the Adelphi and southern areas of the county.
The schools chosen for the ACF based on geographical diversity, overcrowding and inclusion in cycle one of the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP).
“Our P3 program — one of many steps in a multi-year, county-wide project — takes an innovative approach to school construction by financing a collaborative partnership that ensures our educational facilities meet the needs of current and future students,” Goldson said.
The ACF program will invest $25 million to $30 million annually in school construction for the next 30 years. As part of the new program, over 30 schools will undergo renovations or modernization to improve learning conditions and their communities over 30 years. The program will also allow PGCPS to build schools quicker, saving millions of dollars.
“The council believes the board’s resolution demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to addressing the school overcrowding issue as well as decreasing the backlog of construction projects,” the council said in their letter to Goldson. “It is the county council’s sincere hope and expectation that this procurement will yield a true alternative to the way in which Prince George’s County funds public school construction in the future. Thank you and your team for the hard work to get us to this point.”
The council also addressed in their letter a concern raised by Councilmember Mel Franklin at the committee meeting about clarifying the participation requirements for county-based minority business enterprises involved with the construction.
The ACF would include a minimum of 20% county-based minority business enterprises working on the new schools.
“As discussed during the EWD Committee briefing, please keep in mind the county council’s and board’s stated policy commitments to support, to the maximum amount allowed by law, local, minority, women, small and veteran-owned business participation in performing all related services associated with this long-term contract,” the council said in the letter.
The council also approved a few proclamations during the meeting. These included a proclamation presented to Glenarden Woods Elementary School Principal Cecelia Jones-Bowlding for her school after it was named a 2019 National Blue-Ribbon School.
Another proclamation was issued to Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Benjamin Barksdale for exemplary public service and work on the county’s #DrivingItHome initiative. At the end of the meeting, they approved recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.