Gov.-elect Jerry Brown said Wednesday that Meg Whitman called him to concede and offered to do whatever she could to help him and California. When a reporter asked Brown if he wanted her help, he made a crack about how her money could help fill the state budget.

Funny, but Brown should take her offer seriously and give her a real task.

There’s one that fits her resume, and might result in a good outcome for the state and for Whitman.

That job?

Fix the damn computers.

California’s technology systems are failing to perform basic tasks. Controller John Chiang has said that computers are so broken that he can’t adjust payroll without creating problems. And on election night, the California Secretary of State’s system crashed. This is basic stuff that needs to be fixed.

As a candidate, one of the things Whitman talked about with real passion and in real detail was building information technology and data systems for state government. Brown should put her in charge of that, immediately, with a mandate to make that work.

Does that sound crazy? The common sense political reaction would be yes. Why would Brown give power to a woman who spent more than $100 million trying to destroy him – and who could run against him and his party in the future? And wouldn’t a gig as chief technology officer be a comedown for someone like Whitman?

Maybe, but the advantages of such a move outweigh the risks, both for Whitman and for Brown.
For Brown, giving Whitman this i.t. portfolio would be a way to show that he meant what he said when he called for the political parties to cooperate. He also could help the state solve a thorny governmental problem – while giving state bureaucrats who don’t like the change someone to blame (Whitman) for changes they don’t like. Plus, Brown wouldn’t have to pay her.

And for Whitman, who has no experience with public service, she would be able to use her experience and contacts in Silicon Valley (she’s not a computer geek but one of her strengths at eBay was finding and keeping the right geeks) as a way to build her government resume. Accepting such a role would show modesty (you don’t make smart remarks like “Queen Meg” about people who fix your computers; you thank them). And in the process, she would learn how state government works in great detail. It would make her a stronger candidate if she chooses to run again, and a better prepared public servant if she ever wins.

If Brown were to make the offer, it would be hard for Whitman to turn down. Someone who has spent $140 million of her own money to get into government would be obligated to accept.