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Illinois makes its statewide technology agency a permanent part of government

After creating the Department of Innovation and Technology by executive order in 2016, Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a bill codifying its place in the state government.

Colin Wood
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Colin Wood Managing Editor

Colin Wood is the managing editor of StateScoop. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine. Before that, he taught Engl...

(State of Illinois)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Friday making the state's Department of Innovation and Technology a permanent part of the state government.

The department, which Rauner created via executive order in 2016, was solidified after the state legislature unanimously passed the Department of Innovation and Technology Act. The act also codifies the state's chief information security officer position, a role held by Chris Hill, and creates a secretary position for the department, which is now being held in an acting capacity by Kirk Lonbom, the state's chief information officer.

"Today we take another important step in providing higher quality services to the people of Illinois and more value for taxpayers and a safer more secure government for the people of our state," Rauner, a Republican running for re-election, said at the signing held on the sixth floor of the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

Lonbom called the signing a "long-awaited day" that will allow the department to continue the "great strides" made by the department so far. He pointed to the state's enterprise resource planning initiative, which has so far moved 50 percent of the state's financial management to a common system, and is on pace to include 90 percent of the state's finances by the end of the year. Lonbom also mentioned the state's opioid task force, cybersecurity strategy, and a "smart state" program that is helping municipalities implement connected technology programs they may not have been able to start on their own.

Bryan Schneider, the secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, thanked the IT department for helping his office transition away from "out-of-touch" paper-based processes.

"We are here today I think at the end of the beginning as DoIT matures into a fully operational agency for the long term," Schneider said.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler said he was shocked when joining Illinois state government to find that none of the technology was connected properly, but lauded the progress that's been made in the past two years since DoIT's creation.

"I'm a pretty fiscal conservative guy — I don't usually want new departments, but this makes all the sense in the world," Wheeler said. "This is a leap forward, in my opinion, because now we're consolidating things, we're getting things to work together more efficiently, departments aren't using paper anymore — amazing stuff."

Since the department launched under the leadership of former state CIO Hardik Bhatt, who left the state for a position with Amazon last September, Illinois has been repeatedly honored by both the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers as a leader in state government technology. Lonbom, who was the state's chief information security officer before becoming CIO, said the state's cybersecurity strategy is cited in university curricula as a best practice for both the private and public sectors.

"We're going to do a little bit of a relaunch, to level with all our stakeholders and employees on where we've been, where we are right now, what the path is moving forward," Lonbom told StateScoop. "In many ways, it's a very big day to cement this role, but for us it really is about going back to work."

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States, Illinois, State & Local News, Legislation

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