New Burnaby IT chief named 2 months after sudden departures

The City of Burnaby has filled a vacancy left by the sudden departure of its former chief information officer.

Bachar Khawajah has been promoted to the position of chief information officer effective Sept. 21, city manager Lambert Chu announced in an email to staff this week. Khawajah has been with the city’s IT department since 2014 and is currently the department’s assistant director in charge of IT infrastructure.

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“I have worked with Bachar over the years on IT projects and more so in the past six months when the city moved to virtual meetings and activated the emergency operations centre. Over the past few years, we had our share of challenges in advancing technology advances,” Chu wrote in an email obtained by the NOW.

“There are many exciting opportunities in information technology, and the IT department is excited to be a part of the transformation process to transform the City of Burnaby to a thriving digital community, engaging our citizens, businesses and staff in the 21st century.”

Chu said senior management is looking forward to working with Khawajah to develop the department’s direction moving forward. He said the city is working to centralize its IT functions and service delivery into one place at a building near Deer Lake.

Khawajah was the only one left standing among the senior staffers in the IT department after a “departmental reorganization.”

Former CIO Shari Wallace and two deputy directors in the department were among several top IT staff no longer with the city in July. Four other senior positions had also been vacated.

Wallace was unable to comment due to the terms of her departure agreement. She had been with the city since March 2013, a total of more than seven years.

The city declined to share details on the matter, saying the city does “not share employment and personnel information outside the organization.”

The NOW has filed a freedom of information request to obtain records related to the incident, but the city refused to share the applicable records. The request is now before the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for review.

Wallace isn’t the only high-ranking city official to depart from senior management in Burnaby. The city’s former fire chief, Joe Robertson, also left his position in March with no explanation after nearly a year on leave. He had served the city for 30 years.

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dgodfrey@burnabynow.com

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