Colorado CTO David McCurdy joined four other CIOs to discuss how the IT leaders are tackling top IT priorities in the coming year.

Oct 03 2017

NASCIO 2017: 5 State IT Leaders Talk Top Priorities

CIOs offer insights on consolidation, cloud services, diversity and more.

If you want to understand the potential for technology to change the way government works, state IT leaders are a go-to source of information. They make decisions every day that impact citizen engagement, data management, cybersecurity and budgets.

We have some insight into the factors that motivate those decisions thanks to NASCIO’s annual survey of state CIOs. At the NASCIO 2017 Annual Conference this week in Austin, Texas, where state CIOs and their staffs met to exchange ideas, five IT leaders gave five-minute talks discussing how they’re implementing in their states one of NASCIO’s State CIO Top Ten Policy and Technology Priorities for 2017.

This top ten list sets the direction for NASCIO’s activities,” said Connecticut CIO Mark Raymond in introducing the speakers.

1. Tenessee Touts Consolidation Efforts

Tennessee CIO Mark Bengel, who has led his state in its Enterprise IT Transformation initiative to improve services, discussed consolidation and optimization. When Bengel started with the state’s government in 2004, agencies across the state maintained their own data centers.

“That began my journey into IT consolidation,” he said. At the beginning, Bengal did not have a mandate to consolidate, but this actually played to his favor, he said. “It forced me to slow down and be very deliberate about consolidation. I knew if I lost the battle with one agency, I’d lose them all.”

His current consolidation goals are focused on enterprise IT transformation. “This project consolidates all remaining staff across all of our executive branch agencies into one central organization,” Bengel said. “If I had a single takeaway to give you with this, it would be that speed will get you there and quality will keep you employed.”

2. Utah Marks Progress on Cloud Migration

CIO Mike Hussey of Utah spoke about cloud services, which has been on the NASCIO priority list since 2010.

“State CIOs are trying to realize the cost savings, the agility, the transformation that can happen in being part of a cloud model,” said Hussey, also noting that Utah began moving to the cloud in 2009. “In just 18 months, we had consolidated 38 data centers, similar to what Tennessee did.”

The state also virtualized about 80 percent of its server farm while migrating into two data centers. “This enables us to provision things a little more quickly and be a little more agile in our server development and our server infrastructure,” he said. In the first year of the project, the initiative reduced costs by $4 million through savings such as reduced energy consumption and improved licensing.

For cloud services to be most effective, Hussey said, IT leaders should fully understand how data is stored, managed and transported. “In our journey in Utah there have been twists and bumps in the road, but each experiment and investment has led to greater understanding of the cloud and really helped us with our strategy and moving forward.”

3. Washington Keeps IT Costs on Budget

Washington CIO Michael Cockrill discussed budget and cost control, noting that Washington Technology Solutions, or WaTech, the state’s consolidated technology services agency, turned a $22 million deficit into a $500,000 surplus. One key was forming an effective financial architecture, which enables strong financial reporting, he said. Cockrill also emphasized the need to properly delineate costs for shared services from overhead.

“When you’re constructing your financial architecture, you’ve got to separate overhead from shared services, and protect the stuff that isn’t really overhead so you don’t end up getting cut in the wrong places,” he said.

4. Colorado Looks to IT Governance

Colorado CTO David McCurdy focused on enterprise IT governance, identifying communication and proper oversight as two keys to success. In Colorado, IT leaders have put several structures in place to foster communication, including the Joint Technology Committee, which oversees IT projects.

“We no longer have the support of the executive branch, the governor,” McCurdy said. “But JTC has become one of our biggest champions. They’re asking the tough questions, and they’re being an ally in terms of the fight to centralize IT throughout our state.”

Oversight procedures include an IT director assigned to every agency to maintain executive-level communication and centers of excellence.

Every center of excellence, every service that we have needs to have the same structure, needs to have the same body managing it,” McCurdy said, “so our customers know where to go, and we know what kind of service and output we want.”

5. Delaware Targets Greater Diversity

Delaware CIO James Collins spoke on the value of diversity.

“This is a topic I am passionate about because I believe that everyone deserves dignity, respect, and that we all bring talent to the work that we do.”

Collins defined diversity as “bringing together people of all backgrounds, lifestyles, different races, genders, religions, disabilities, and the list goes on. A diverse organization is one that actually embraces these difference as well as encourages and leverages them for everyone’s benefit.”

Collins said that diversity also requires inclusiveness.

Promoting diversity will get employees in the door, but if there isn’t inclusivity they won’t stick around," he said. "This isn’t just the right thing to do, and it’s not about being politically correct. Diversity is integral to growth, innovation, and providing products and services that meet our customers’ needs. To be truly effective, our workforce must be a reflection of the citizens and the customers that we serve.”

Check out all our articles and videos from StateTech’s coverage of the NASCIO 2017 Annual Conference here.

Tom Weede/Manifest

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