A panoramic view of the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Mont. 

Aug 15 2018

Montana's New CIO Aims to Focus on Cybersecurity and Efficiency

Tim Bottenfield wants to aid Gov. Steve Bullock’s effective government agenda while also keeping an eye on IT security.

In Big Sky Country, Tim Bottenfield is not getting lost in the clouds.

Montana’s new CIO is focused on some fairly grounded priorities, and wants to maintain the focus his predecessors had on cybersecurity while also contributing to Gov. Steve Bullock’s effective government program and making IT even more efficient.

Bottenfield, named CIO by Bullock on July 2, had served since 2011 as CIO of the state’s Department of Revenue and also had various IT roles over 25 years at Auburn University.

Bullock said in a statement that he is looking forward “to working with him to ensure that Montana continues to be a leader and utilize IT in secure, efficient and effective ways.

SIGN UP: Get more news from the StateTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

Cybersecurity Will Remain a Key Focus in Montana

One of Bottenfield’s top priorities, according to Government Technology, will be meeting the mission of the State Information Technology Services Division’s biennial strategic plan, which Chief Technology Officer Matt Van Syckle updated in March. Van Syckle served as interim CIO from January to July following the departure of former CIO Ron Baldwin

The plan has six key objectives related to cybersecurity:

  1. Develop and implement security standards, common controls, and best practices for information systems.

  2. Enhance the enterprise information security training and awareness program.

  3. Protect information systems across the state by leveraging the public-private partnerships established by the Montana Information Security Advisory Council to enhance information sharing, outreach, and risk awareness.

  4. Develop the internal review and compliance program to provide data that proves efficient security controls or identifies security gaps to remediate.

  5. Develop automated processes in continuous monitoring and risk management to identify threats, gain efficiencies, and overcome resource limitations.

  6. Perform a cybersecurity cost analysis for the state, including investment recommendations.

Bottenfield tells Government Technology that he wants to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture through IT solutions as well as aggressive training and education. Four years ago, the State Information Technology Services Division partnered with the Department of Revenue on a multifactor authentication initiative that led to the tool being adopted across all state agencies.

“It’s not a sexy thing to talk about, but it has to be central to everything we do. It doesn’t really matter if you’re the Department of Revenue, if you’re the Health and Human Services agency … everybody gets the fact that security is the No. 1 thing,” Bottenfield says, praising Van Syckle and Baldwin for their cybersecurity efforts.

Over the past year, SITSD and other agencies, including the governor’s office, have explored a Belief-Desire-Intention software model-based initiative. Such a model allows intelligent agents to balance their time between selecting a plan of action and carrying it out. That BDI model could lead the state to adopt a “Unified Desktop Workspace environment,” Bottenfield tells Government Technology, which might allow the state to more closely connect and monitor endpoints.

“Through this initiative and through this type of technology, we feel that we’ll have a better handle on security than we do right now with just the standard desktop sitting on somebody’s desk,” he says. Bottenfield wants to migrate SITSD to this new model as soon as this fall, and launch pilots in “different lines of business” at other agencies.

Montana Drives Efficiency in Data Center and IT Operations

Bullock boasts that he “understands that promoting energy efficiency in the state not only saves taxpayers dollars, but also helps to protect the quality of life we all enjoy.”

“Through innovations at the state's data center, Montanans have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs,” the governor’s office says.

According to Government Technology, following an executive order from Bullock, “the state has worked to consolidate and optimize executive-level infrastructure — a goal that Baldwin said last year should save millions of dollars when fully implemented and improve sharing through what would essentially be a ‘private cloud.’”

Now, Bottenfield says, about “99.5 percent” of agency data is housed at “state-of-the-art” state data centers in Helena and Miles City. The consolidation has also enabled the state to be in the position to offer server space to outside entities and agencies in other jurisdictions. Bottenfield says the effort is “a really cost-effective move" for the state.

ChrisBoswell/Getty Images