This week on GovDataDownload, we continue our feature of StateScoop videos with discussions from the CIOs of California, North Carolina, and the state of Washington. While each state looks ahead to the future with their own set of priorities and challenges, they do share some commonalities. Innovation remains a top goal for each state while cybersecurity efforts are also top of mind for CIOs. Keep reading to find out what these CIOs had to say about their state priorities.

Opening Doors in California with an Innovation Lab and Open Data Portal

In the state of California, Deputy CIO Chris Cruz says their big focus this year has been developing a strategic plan for the next two years. According to Cruz, top priorities revolve around organizational sustainability to enhance their customer service approach and initiatives to spearhead innovation from within.

Cruz also says there has been a big push to attract top talent in California and employee satisfaction, which includes a new virtual work environment that they are offering to employees. Perhaps the most important priority, he says is information security. He says it’s a top priority for the administration in terms of how they manage the states critical public data and how they partner with other agencies to have a cohesive and integrative approach to risk management.

California recently kicked off CA.gov, an effort to rebrand the whole website which Cruz says has more of a look and feel that is like a geographic information system, so for example, if you are in L.A., you will get information on that city. In addition to the rebrand, they recently launched an open data portal which allows users to see data on just about anything in the state including environmental issues, water, electricity, and health and human services, all in one place.

As if that weren’t enough, the state also launched an Innovation lab that will allow for open source and modular development folks to come in free of charge into the lab and partition “sandbox space” to create open source capability and share code with others. Cruz says that RedHat and GitHub are being used to extract code from that system.

As Cruz says, the state is stepping up the ways they can be more innovative and transformative in the future and believes they will continue to “make leaps and bounds and finish strong in the next two years.”

Watch the interview below for the full scoop on California’s top IT priorities.

In North Carolina, One IT = Our IT

As the saying in North Carolina goes, “One IT=Our IT”. In 2013, the state was directed under the Appropriations Act to “develop a plan to restructure the State’s IT operations for the most effective and efficient utilization of resources and capabilities,” with the goals of enhancing citizen satisfaction, increasing efficiencies, creating clear accountability, and improving the ability to retain top talent.

StateScoop had a chance to sit down with Keith Werner, CIO of North Carolina, to talk about the state’s restructuring efforts and according to Werner, the state is laser focused on the transition. He says some of the biggest challenges lie within the uniqueness of each department as they look to “embrace efficiency and modernization.” Werner says, “we are undertaking a very complex move so understanding the human resource and financial complexities of  a move like this, and understanding how every agency operates from a business perspective,” has been a big challenge.

In order to address these challenges, Werner says the state is making sure they are very transparent in the exercise, working directly with the secretary and developing written plans before executing upon anything. As he says, engagement is critical during this transition.

Three years ago, an innovation center was created in North Carolina as they realized the importance of IT modernization. So far the innovation center has proven successful, saving them millions in contract terms and helping to spawn the national conversation around innovation. Perhaps more importantly though, the innovation center has created a culture of collaboration. As Werner says, “It’s not just about technology […] it’s about getting the IT professionals within the state talking to one another.”

You can check out the official StateScoop interview with Keith Werner below.

People Trump Technology in the state of Washington

In the state of Washington, CIO Michael Cockrill says while they maintain many important operational priorities, nothing is more important than their workforce. The state is currently working on putting in a new ERP, and updating their project management methodology towards an agile culture, but his main focus is on workforce development – attracting new people and retaining talent. In a recent interview, Cockrill shares with StateScoop that “technology will take care of itself if you have people that are engaged and who are empowered to do what they are there for, which is public service.”

Cockrill also believes that the state of Washington is raising consciousness around cybersecurity. While in the past, state government has not been involved in national defense, the mindset is changing to one that must also protect the homeland – whether it may be power, water, or electricity – states are constantly facing the risk of cyberattacks and must remain at the forefront of them.
He says there are still challenges within the state government to move forward quickly because of the “baked-in culture in government” that they are actually supposed to move slowly in order to make things work.  As Cockrill says, the problem is that when it comes to technology, “you must keep up with change or you get behind the curve very quickly.” He believes that the way to change this mindset is to begin taking risks.

That said, the state is not slowing down when it comes to innovation. Within the past few years, they have been able to deliver IT billing from paper to online, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and enormous amounts of capacity to free up additional resources so employees can focus their efforts on other priorities.

You can view the full interview with Washington CIO Michael Cockrill here: