Building a New IT Culture in Vermont
Four years ago, Scott consolidated the state’s disparate IT fiefdoms into a centralized agency, the Agency of Digital Services, or ADS.
At the time, Quinn said, it was unclear how many applications the state was running and who even counted as an IT staff member, given some of the employees’ wonky titles.
To build credibility, Quinn said, he spent every day of the state’s legislative sessions for two years talking with lawmakers about both the good things that the state was doing and where the state was falling short on IT. Being transparent as key to building trust, Quinn said. “That relationship building has given us not only credibility in the legislature but with partner agencies across state government,” he said.
When ADS was set up, each executive agency in Vermont had its own CIO. Those IT leaders remained in place but started to report to Quinn. “Those agencies had a trusted adviser that I had control over,” he said, adding that it did take a while to get aligned on goals.
Now, when IT projects are created, Quinn brings in all of the relevant IT staff upfront to explain the vision and why the state is doing something.
Vermont has developed a process for IT modernization in which each agency comes up with its top three IT goals, according to Quinn. Then the governor’s cabinet and Quinn’s office go through them to discuss their value and potential return on investment, as well as whether they align with ADS’ strategic goals and the governor’s overarching goals. Then, the governor goes through them and determines how much funding each priority should get.
The state at this point is focused on launching modern digital government services, Quinn said, and “bringing those services to the citizens that need them and want them.”
The past year’s coronavirus pandemic has been a “perfect example of showing our value across Vermont,” Quinn says, with a fivefold increase in online interactions with residents. “It proved to everyone across every agency that these applications in digital government are needed and wanted by Vermonters.”
ADS has been working to get other state agencies used to agile development and procurement. ADS has helped roll out scalable services for agencies, including point-of-sale systems, as well as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning systems.