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Amy Tong, CIO of California

Do you feel the profile of your role has changed during the pandemic?

Through this experience, what has changed is the fact that many of these programmatic decisions need to be coupled with operational thoroughness, and a huge part of it is how to deliver services and digital platforms. I think it further cements the fact that technology cannot be an afterthought. It has to be at the forefront. When policies, when programs and operation process are being developed, technology needs to be at the table in order to really foster the art of possible.

What lesson will you take with you from the pandemic?

Technology is evolving so fast itself already and when it comes to state government, typically, we’re lagging behind. Much of that is due to the fact that large technology modernization takes planning, takes thoroughness, takes thinking it through, but I think it’s also important that we are very mindful — let’s not let perfect be the enemy of progress. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve really practiced and practiced over and over with rapid procurement, rapid development of technology and data systems. Even though there may be some bumps in rolling it out, the fact that we can get it in front of people and let people use it makes a huge difference.

How do you anticipate managing a hybrid or remote model of work going forward?

Overall, I think the direction of telework is going to be the foreseeable future, the way that the California government is going to move forward, which means that whatever interim measure, if some departments are well funded or more well-funded than the others, those are the things that as a central Department of Technology, in our statewide role, we need to make sure every department are well equipped in supporting their workforce in working remotely. That’s anywhere from personal productivity tools to broadband connections to security to as technical as an electronic signature.

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