Dave Fletcher, Utah’s longtime chief technology officer, is retiring after serving nearly 20 years in the position, StateScoop confirmed Wednesday.
His retirement, which was first reported by Government Technology magazine, will go into effect Thursday.
Fletcher oversaw the state’s digital government initiatives and coordinated the introduction of emerging technology and the state’s technical architecture program. Throughout his decades-long career in public service, he’s been instrumental in pushing Utah state agencies to adopt emerging technology.
“I hate to see another great public servant leaving the group but, you know, I give Dave permission to retire. He definitely deserves it,” said Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State CIOs.
Robinson, who told StateScoop he’s known Fletcher since before he became CTO in 2006, said state CTOs typically serve for about two years. When asked how Fletcher was able to hold the position for nearly ten times as long, he said, “You just have to be adaptable, and he’s very resilient. He has a lot of intellectual curiosity. He is kind of ‘Mr. Emerging Technology.’”
That sentiment was echoed by Fletcher’s colleague, current Utah CIO Alan Fuller.
“He’s a fountain of knowledge, he can give you a rundown on almost any technology,” said Fuller, who’s worked with Fletcher for nearly three years.
‘Just a gimmick’
When Fletcher stepped into the role in the early 2000s, digital technology was growing at a rapid pace, most notably with the rise of the internet. However, many government agencies were slow to adopt new technologies. Fuller said this was in part due to the shortsightedness of government officials at the time.
“Dave was telling me how, early on, there were agencies in the state who just flat out banned the use of the internet in their agency, because they thought it was just a gimmick,” Fuller said. “Looking back, it’s kind of funny, right? Because now, we all use the internet every day.”
Fletcher’s challenge: keeping pace with advancing technology, convincing his colleagues the internet was more than a fad and still meeting the needs of Utah’s citizens. A tall order for a brand new CTO.
It took a coordinated approach across agencies to usher the Beehive State, which borrows a symbol of hard work and industry, into a new era of digitized government services. But Fletcher succeeded. Under his leadership, Utah became one of the first states to adopt the .gov domain, among other firsts.
Ahead of the year 2000, Fletcher served as Utah’s Y2k coordinator, preparing for a transition into the millennium that threatened to crash government servers and upend public services.
His efforts were further reflected in the state’s 2007 e-government plan and the creation of mobile-friendly digital services after smartphones were invented. More recently, Fletcher led the implementation of Utah’s cloud strategy and pushed to incorporate generative artificial intelligence into its digital services.
“You can always count on him to be a step ahead of everybody else,” NASCIO’s Robinson said.
After 30 years of Fletcher’s work in state government, Utah has become one of the leading states in adopting emerging technologies.
“I think what really will be Dave’s legacy,” Fuller said, “is that he’s been able to help us embrace and move to new technologies over time that have turned out to be tremendously beneficial for the state.”
Fletcher has a history of involvement with technology initiatives in state government before his tenure as Utah CTO. He served as director of the state’s Division of Information Technology, deputy CIO over eGovernment and deputy director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services.
Next month, Chris Williamson, CIO of Myriad Genetics, will take over as Utah’s new CTO. Fuller said Williamson will continue Fletcher’s work, which includes the state’s citizen portal, where Utahns can create a single profile to access services across state agencies.