This week on GovDataDownload, we feature a series of StateScoop videos with discussions from the CIOs of Nebraska, Minnesota and Maryland. While each state is facing their own unique set of challenges, there was one similarity among all – and that is the need, desire, and push for more innovative practices. In Nebraska, CIO Ed Toner says their focus continues around IT modernization while state of Minnesota CIO, Tom Baden, believes innovation should be everyone’s responsibility. In Maryland, CIO Luis Estrada says innovation can’t happen without agile transformation. Continue reading to find out what each had to say.

Nebraska’s Approach to IT Modernization Starts with the Network

In the state of Nebraska, their top IT priorities for the year “really all revolve around modernization, revolve around reducing costs and [making] technology more available to our citizens,” CIO, Ed Toner, told StateScoop in a video interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference this month in Orlando.

IT consolidation has been key to driving modernization across the state.  According to Toner, there is a three step process in IT consolidation. It begins with the network, then the data center, and finally ends at desktop support. Toner says that they have completed the first step – IT network resource consolidation.

Nebraska’s IT modernization approach is unique in that they are pulling the network and IT infrastructure under the CIO’s office, while applications and services will follow naturally. “I didn’t want to take that knowledge away from those agencies,” Toner said. “So why don’t [agencies] keep that? I’ll manage your infrastructure. You shouldn’t really care what it rides on. The network, the servers, all the infrastructure, you shouldn’t really worry about. That should be agnostic.”

Check out the video below for the full interview with Nebraska CIO Ed Toner.

In Minnesota, Tech Innovation is Everybody’s Job

In Minnesota, they continue to press on with their top IT priorities and, as CIO Tom Baden says, “cybersecurity is still number one. The attacks are pretty much unrelenting. We’ve had a great team […] however, the frequency in states has been a greater target than ever before. Moving ahead and making sure our data centers are optimized and our infrastructure is optimized and secure [are key initiatives]. We’ve got to act upon those this year.”

Baden says Minnesota is a leader in technology and innovation because they excel in IT management.  They have moved from 49 data centers to 28 and are continuously optimizing infrastructures. Their network not only connects 26 branch agencies, but also 87 counties, tribal communities, and cities, meaning there is an enormous, complex system of networks to keep track of. Baden says that he sees “government pivoting from being a silo of programs or agencies” to one that operates as a whole.

According to Baden, innovation happens from the ground up and is a responsibility for every single person. He says “our job as leaders is to enable every single person that we have to innovate constantly and we should be providing solutions that matter to people.”

You can view the full interview with Minnesota CIO Tom Baden here:

Maryland Looks to Agile Transformation for IT Innovation

In the state of Maryland, they have been “laser focused” on enterprise planning this past year, with the majority of time spent on consolidating infrastructure and commodity IT services and improving delivery of application services.

When interviewed by StateScoop, Luis Estrada, Maryland’s deputy secretary of IT said that innovation will only happen “by challenging our underlying beliefs in the agency, by changing our culture.” He continued, “innovation can’t happen in the state of Maryland under the current mindset. So, we’re looking at an enterprise [level], lean agile transformation from where we make our investments, how we budget them and fund them over time. How we connect different programs across the agency to deliver real results for the citizens, the people of Maryland, the people we are here to serve[….]we need to shift to a user centered mindset where they have to interact with multiple programs and agencies to get value out of the state. How can we connect that and make that entire stream more efficient.”

According to Estrada, Maryland has programs that are very successful but people and culture are some of the biggest challenges because there is so much resistance to change.

You can hear more about Estrada’s plans for Maryland here: