An annual report issued by a Delaware government board calls on officials to improve technology across state agencies, including expansions of digital government services and remote-work capabilities. The report comes amid an ongoing pandemic in which state governments around the country have increasingly replaced their in-person services with digital services.
The report issued earlier this month by the state Government Accountability and Efficiency Review, or GEAR, board, made several IT recommendations to Gov. John Carney as Delaware plans its budget and policy priorities for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins next July 1. In addition to of expanding digital government by reducing the number of manual transactions that residents must go through while conducting business with the state, the report called for continued investment into virtual meeting technology and electronic filing systems for the state’s judicial branch.
The report also urged several agencies, including its departments of Human Resources and Natural Resources and Environmental Control to modernize their IT systems.
The ubiquity of technology in the report, which covers nearly the entirety of Delaware’s government, was expected, said Jason Clarke, the state’s chief information officer.
‘You’ll see technology in every single category, whether that’s associated with leveraging toolsets for workflow to remove paper, content management solutions or whatever it may be,” Clarke told StateScoop. “At the end of the day, we like to say that ‘Delaware runs on IT,’” Clarke said. “There’s really no business in the state — or very few left — that do not require some form of technology to deliver to their citizens, whatever the experience is.
Clarke, who was appointed as CIO last month, said the annual report is largely a vehicle for the state to compare what’s working and what’s not, and that the GEAR board is tasked with ensuring the state isn’t wasting resources or being duplicative.
Carney created the GEAR board in 2017, when the state faced a $350 million budget shortfall. The board, which is composed of members of Carney’s administration, makes recommendations to find savings across government, including in IT services, education, health and social services and human resources. In past years, for instance, it has suggested giving state workers cash incentives for coming up with innovative ideas.
Many of the recommendations made in the 2020 report arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased streaming of public meetings, virtual training sessions for new employees and an expansion of the state’s online financial management accounting system.
The pandemic “threw a curveball” into the state’s IT centralization plans, Clarke said, but revealed the importance of enterprise services that can be modified or updated for multiple agencies at the same time, so digital services are improved “equitably” around state government.
“We take advantage of the tools that we have, and the innovative thinking that occurs across a multitude of agencies and try to leverage it for each and every agency,” Clarke said.