Ohio CIO Katrina Flory was her state’s longtime deputy CIO prior to her promotion in June. 

Sep 22 2021

Q&A: Ohio’s Katrina Flory Sees Collaboration, Team Building as Her Most Effective Tools

The recently promoted Ohio CIO has 10 years of experience in resolving IT challenges throughout her state.

In June, Katrina Flory became CIO of Ohio after serving as deputy CIO since 2011. Over the course of her service, Flory managed the establishment of state shared services,­ ­including the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System, the state’s enterprise resource planning ­system; the Ohio Business Gateway tax platform; the state’s eLicense system, which supports professional certifications; and the InnovateOhio Platform, which promises a unified identity and access management solution for all state citizen services.

StateTech recently chatted with Flory about her current ­priorities and what lies ahead.

STATETECH: As a longtime deputy CIO, you have a unique view of Ohio’s potential IT challenges and ­opportunities. What items top your priority list right now?

Flory: Thanks to the support of Ohio Director of Administrative Services Kathleen Madden and the groundwork laid by former CIO Ervan Rodgers, I start with a strong foundation. We released our IT innovation strategic plan last year. We’re going to focus on our cloud-smart initiative and our InnovateOhio Platform. 

STATETECH: Let’s follow up on both of those. How do you determine success for the cloud-smart initiative? 

Flory: Initially, we adopted a cloud-first approach, then we changed our mindset to cloud-smart, meaning we want to be innovative in creating or rebuilding those solutions in the cloud, rather than just a “lift and shift” of those systems to public cloud providers. We have ­positioned ourselves as cloud brokers. We have contracts, cloud master service agreements, with Amazon Web Services, Oracle, Microsoft Azure, Google and IBM. We’re working with our vendor partners and the agencies to ensure we have the best solution in place for them.

STATETECH: Can you give us an overview of the status of the InnovateOhio program?

Flory: The InnovateOhio platform continues to grow as agencies come on board. The standard digital platform, digital ­identity and data sharing really showcase the power of that platform. During the ­pandemic, we did some very good work with the Ohio Department of Health on coronavirus.ohio.gov — everything from the website to leveraging ID and data analytics. That work gave agencies a sense of what can be accomplished. 

Katrina Flory
We want to be innovative in creating or rebuilding those solutions in the cloud, rather than just a 'lift and shift' of those systems to public cloud providers.

Katrina Flory Ohio CIO

We also have data.ohio.gov, our data portal, which is a publicly available, interactive repository of state data. State and local agencies, researchers, media and the public can access data sets there. We’re hoping that this portal will inform research to drive innovation and solutions to the challenges facing Ohio today. We currently have 235 data sets from 79 different programs across state agencies, and we see more data ­coming all the time. 

RELATED: What are the benefits of a single digital identity for government services? 

STATETECH: What are your milestones for InnovateOhio, and what will it look like when it’s all done? 

Flory: Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who leads the program, hasn’t been shy in declaring you won’t have to go to a government office to do business with the state of Ohio. That’s the goal. There’s been a ­significant focus on enhancing the online presence of our Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Even if you have to go in person, you have the opportunity to use tools like the Get In Line, Online tool. You can schedule your appointment from home and then head to your BMV branch and check in, and you’ve got your spot in line. The lieutenant governor is looking for things like that. 

STATETECH: You were Ohio deputy CIO since 2011, and now you’re CIO. Have any tech developments become pet issues in that time? Have you developed any IT insights thanks to that longevity?

Flory: In that time, we expanded our service offerings through enterprise shared ­services, and we built services based on a model of collaboration and ­partnership. An example of our success is the story of how we established a true ­statewide email system.

Once, we had maybe 19 different email systems, and we tried to move everyone onto the same system. Several years ago, a cabinet director called me and said, “The governor would like to send an email to all state employees.” Well, the ­governor actually had to send it to all cabinet directors, and then they could send it out to each of their agencies. At the end of that ­administration, we still did not have a single statewide email system.

But we began to foster the collaboration and partnership necessary to get us there. You have to hold ­conversations with stakeholders, bring them on board and rely on good, old-fashioned change management and relationship building to make progress.

As for a long-standing issue we would like to resolve, it would be broadband. Recently, I was talking to Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, and we observed that broadband has long been a top priority for state CIOs. What will it take to get broadband off that priority list? 

In our state, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted have empowered InnovateOhio and BroadbandOhio to tackle the challenge.

Photography by Aaron Conway