Technology is officially at the center of the Garden State’s vision for its future, and the seeds being planted by its newest IT leader are poised to bear great fruit.
Governor Chris Christie elevated the state’s CISO, Dave Weinstein, to a cabinet-level position as the state’s first-ever chief technology officer in June. The move was done as part of a broader shift and reprioritization around the state’s management and strategy with regard to IT.
“New Jersey's public employees rely on information technology (IT) systems to serve our citizens with vital functions of government. These duties demand – and the taxpayer’s deserve – a user experience that enables greater productivity and long-term efficiencies while protecting private information to the greatest extent possible,” said Christie in a statement announcing Weinstein’s promotion.
Weinstein was promoted to CISO in January and brings with him a wealth of a cybersecurity experience to his new role as CTO. And that focus on cybersecurity is not an accident.
“We hear a lot about CTOs and CIOs prioritizing security at the top of their list, but I think the difference here in New Jersey is we’re actually operationalizing that mentality,” said Weinstein in an interview with StateScoop.
Private-Sector Sophistication Meets Startup Humor
When it comes to building a future-proof, competitive IT infrastructure for the state and its agencies, Weinstein is all business. And according to the New Jersey Office of Information Technology’s website, the operation is an impressive machine.
But there are several transformations and evolutions that Weinstein is exploring within the state beyond merely maintaining the large IT infrastructure he’s currently responsible for.
In a story with Government Technology, Weinstein discussed efforts to adopt a cloud-first mentality, continue IT consolidation efforts and spearhead the shift toward becoming the central IT service provider for the entire state. Currently, IT services are managed at the municipal level as well.
“We want to be the ones managing infrastructure,” he said. “We leave the application development and the business case development to the agencies themselves.”
But Weinstein also brings a refreshing levity to his communication and engagement within his department and with other state agencies. On his Twitter account, @jerzcyber, Weinstein shares his enthusiasm for New Jersey-born Olympic athletes (such as gymnast Laurie Hernandez and teenage hurdler Sydney McLaughlin) alongside his witty remarks about IT security.
Now a good time to think about who is playing chess and who is playing checkers re: the latest #NSA news. Hint: it's not a two-player match.
— Dave Weinstein (@jerzcyber) August 17, 2016
But the sense of transparency and community he’s trying to foster is also evident on his Twitter feed. Recently, Weinstein posted about a CTO Brown Bag Lunch series, which he started.
— Dave Weinstein (@jerzcyber) August 11, 2016
Even more importantly, beyond the humor and community building, Weinstein uses his voice to champion and inspire the state’s IT to modernize and compete with the best in class. Public-sector doesn’t have to be second-tier in his view.
— Dave Weinstein (@jerzcyber) August 9, 2016
Given the cabinet-level elevation, the appetite for transparency and strategizing, and the aspiration to build best-in-class technology, it would appear that Weinstein and New Jersey’s IT department are positioned to set a new bar in state IT.