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'Cutting edge' digital services prime Vermont for change

After more than a decade and a half in state government, state CIO John Quinn is using his experience to build the roadmap for the state’s new technology agency.

Jake Williams
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Jake Williams Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives

Jake Williams is currently the Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives for StateScoop, based in Washington, D.C., where h...

For John Quinn, Vermont’s chief information officer, his 16 years in state government are coming in handy.

The CIO, who heads up the state’s Agency of Digital Services, has spent his decade and a half in state government working across technology — from shared services to project management and enterprise systems.

“I understand Vermont very well,” Quinn says in a video interview with StateScoop. “I understand the organization very well.”

Quinn was appointed by Gov. Phil Scott in January 2017 as the state’s chief innovation officer. One of his first responsibilities, Quinn says, was to assess the state’s IT operation. From there, the idea for the Agency of Digital Services was born.

“I spent three months doing that, and at the end of it, given an executive order that created the new agency of Digital Services, which I was asked to lead,” Quinn says.

As he took the helm of the new agency, Quinn set his top four goals as project management, understanding IT spend, cybersecurity and increasing digital services for citizens.

“Myself and my leadership team have been trying to really show our vision for the state of Vermont and meet with employees and empower them to take some time each day and work on things that are maybe outside their normal job,” Quinn says.

Under all of that organizational change, is an eye toward the future, Quinn says. The state’s transportation agency, in collaboration with Quinn’s office, is laying the groundwork for an artificial intelligence project that will help model the deterioration of state roads.

“We’re in the infancy stages of building an AI environment in the agency of transportation,” Quinn says. “That’s supposed to help with modeling for the deterioration of roads. Very, very cutting edge. Pretty awesome stuff.”

Within a year, Quinn says, the state will have some quantifiable results to share on the progress of that project, but in the near-term, the state CIO will work to improve on his four main strategic goals — at the core of which is data-driven government.

“For the governor, the cabinet and the legislature to make those decisions, they need data,” Quinn says. “I’m hoping to be able to provide that to them.”

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