A longtime aide to Gov. Scott Walker has a new state job that pays her 31 percent more than what her predecessor made last year.
Cindy Archer was selected as the top candidate for chief information officer for the State Public Defender’s Office.
In September 2011, her Madison home was raided as part of a now-closed John Doe investigation that led to six convictions of former Walker aides and associates. She was Walker’s administrative services director in Milwaukee County, and after he became governor she has held a series of jobs in various state agencies, including second in command at the key Department of Administration.
With the move, Archer’s annual salary rose to $113,459, or $54.34 per hour, which in 2013 would have made her the sixth-highest paid IT manager in state government, according to state salary records. It’s an 11.7 percent raise from the $48.62 per hour she was making previously as the agency’s administrative services director, a position that will remain vacant, public defender’s office spokesman Randy Kraft said.
Both the chief information officer and the administrative services director have historically reported to the deputy state public defender, Kraft said, though an agency organizational chart shows the chief information officer reporting to the administrative services director. Kraft said Archer’s move was a career executive transfer and not a demotion.
Archer’s predecessor, Gail Zaucha, left in March after holding the position since 2003. Last year Zaucha made $41.48 per hour, the lowest among the state’s 23 IT managers. That’s 31 percent less than Archer’s new pay rate.
Kraft said the comparison isn’t accurate because Archer’s new salary reflects both a general raise for state employees and a market rate raise that certain IT employees received, which Zaucha would have been eligible to receive this year.
Archer was selected for the position over other candidates, Kraft said, though he was not authorized to release the other names Wednesday.
He noted Archer’s 13 years of experience in administrative services at both the state and local level included the responsibility for the leadership, oversight, planning and project management aspects of government IT operations. That helped qualify her for the position, in addition to her experience overseeing the department’s IT operations since September and filling in for Zaucha since March and managing the department’s six IT staff positions.
“The agency relies on IT as much as other organizations, and this transfer provides the agency with continuity in ongoing efforts to achieve much-needed upgrades in IT operations and resources,” Kraft said, adding that Archer’s salary is in the mid-range for comparable positions in other state agencies and “is in the range of what the position would pay if we hired from outside the agency.”
Kraft also noted that according to the state employee handbook, career executives “may be reassigned to best meet an agency’s program goals.”
According to a job description, 70 percent of Archer’s responsibilities will be for “other non-supervisory activities different from those of the employees supervised.”
Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said that suggests Archer was moved into the position in order to get a pay increase.
Beil called Archer’s nearly $6 per hour raise a “huge increase.” Most state employees saw a 1 percent raise this past year. The average pay among state IT managers last year was $49.77 per hour.
“What does Cindy Archer know about IT other than the email system she set up for Walker at the (Milwaukee County) courthouse?” Beil asked.
Archer served as Walker’s director of administrative services when he was Milwaukee County executive. During that time she was part of Walker’s “inner circle” of both county and gubernatorial campaign staff who regularly traded messages using private emails and a secret router set up in Walker’s office to circumvent open records laws.
In a March 22, 2010, email released earlier this year, Archer helped Walker deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch access the secret system.
“Consider yourself now in the ‘inner circle’. :) I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW (short for Scott Walker) and (Walker chief of staff Tom) Nardelli,” Archer wrote to Rindfleisch. “You should be sure you check it throughout the day.”
Rindfleisch has since been convicted of campaigning for lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis while on taxpayer time, which she is appealing.
Archer was not charged with any wrongdoing. She also wasn’t one of 13 people granted immunity for their testimony in the John Doe investigation.
After Walker was elected governor in November 2010, Archer became deputy secretary of the Department of Administration, making $124,000. In August 2011, she resigned from that job, taking a $25,000 pay cut for a legislative liaison job in the Department of Children and Families. She also went on medical leave for two months.
Archer made the move from DCF to the state public defender’s office last September. At the time, her pay increased 1 percent from $48.11 per hour to $48.62 per hour.
Archer did not respond to a request for comment.