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Amid IT consolidation, Nebraska focuses on the basics

While state Chief Information Officer Ed Toner continues leading an ‘impossible’ IT consolidation, the technology leader is also focusing on business fundamentals that typically don't get as much press.

Jake Williams
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 Nebraska Chief Information Officer Ed Toner, focusing on basic internal processes is just as important as all the exciting new technologies people love to talk about. 

“To tell you the truth, the other focus that really doesn’t get any attention [is] we’re really focusing on ITIL standards, and specifically, service management,” Toner told StateScoop TV at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) midyear conference in late April.
ITIL standards — or information technology infrastructure library standards — are a series of best practices that focus on aligning technology efforts with the needs of lines of business. In government, this alignment is traditionally with specific agency missions.
This focus on standards is really a focus on “basics,” Toner said. In addition to establishing internal processes for certain operations, the state is also using technology tools to streamline communication and ensure that operations stay similar and efficient across agencies and operations.
“We all can talk the same language,” Toner said. “In the past, we were using five to seven different tools. They couldn’t talk to each other. [Now], we have full incident management processes in place, service requests in place, problem management processes in place. We have changed management processes in place.”
In addition, Toner’s department stood up a project management office to help coordinate that streamlining across projects and lines of business.
“We have all those verticals that ITIL is saying is best practice, and we’re putting them to work, and they're actually working well,” Toner said. “The team has really adopted it.”
In addition to the PMO, the ITIL efforts underway are coordinated through the governance committee, which Toner chairs, of the Nebraska IT Commission — a group that plans the future of the state’s information technology operations.
“The governance committee consists of all agencies across the state, so that’s cabinet agencies and non-cabinet,” Toner said. “When we come up with new policies, procedures — as we have with ITIL, we put that through the governance committee. The word gets out that way.”

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