Interview: Maricopa County CIO David L. Stevens

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With nearly four million residents and a total area larger than that of seven states, Maricopa County in Arizona is one of the fastest growing places in the United States, and the county’s leadership is making sure its technology keeps pace.

David L. Stevens, Maricopa County’s chief information officer for nearly two years, told StateScoop his office spent the past 18 months working to establish its IT Service Catalog, including working with accounting firm Grant Thornton for the past year on a services portfolio and catalog tied to IT Financial Management principles that will bring greater transparency and understanding to the county government’s 58 departments on the technology services available to them.

“One of the key messages we heard from our customers was a need for greater transparency,” Stevens said. “What we’ve done is systematically looked at all of our services and associated costs and grouped them together into customer-focused service bundles, so when an agency – for example – sets up a new employee at a workstation, they will know the costs and all the technology services that are available to them.”

Stevens expects the first phase of the plan to come out this month with it morphing over time to account for changes in cost and policy and design improvements for existing services. The end result, he said will be giving the rest of the county clearer insight into the money it invests to keep its more than 14,000 government employees working.

The service catalog has been an important strategic project for Stevens since taking the reins. Prior to Stevens’ selection as Maricopa County’s CIO in July 2012, he joined the Office of Enterprise Technology with Maricopa County as it’s deputy CIO, after leaving his previous position of CIO for the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County.

Stevens is working on a number of other strategic investments in addition to the services catalog.

  • Most notable among the projects include an enterprise resource planning system the county is working on with vendor CGI. Stevens said the project is currently in the envision phase with requirements gathering ending this month.
  • Stevens is also passionate about the most important component of any investment – Great People. He is working to build a strong workforce and tackle problems of compensation, retention, and recruitment and has made great progress on this front.
  • Maricopa County is completing a multi-year network refresh effort that will support (among a number of things) a VOiP and unified communications investment, a project the county is working with Avaya to implement.
  • The county is working with Motorola on a public safety radio system.
  • Stevens also said Maricopa County is partnering with HP on a virtual desktop infrastructure project to bring down computing costs and improve services to customers in desktop computing.
  • There is also an exciting strategy for data center colocation that will push county data centers into purpose built industry best in class space. This investment will have many long-term benefits to the county.
  • Finally, the county is continuing a “bring your own device” program for employees that allow county workers to use their own mobile devices on the job and receive a stipend for doing so.

“So much of what we are trying to do is make a connection with customers,” said Stevens, who oversees a full-time staff of around 250 employees. “We want our customers to see the value in what we bring while providing them with the tools they need to be successful.”

While leading one of the nation’s largest counties, Stevens makes a point to try to be strategic with everything he does. His focus is on making the right investments with the right partners and bringing value to the citizens, understanding that simply throwing money at a problem is not effective.

“We do not want to be asleep at the wheel,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, we want to have our people engaged and thinking about the building blocks of technology that can be used to transform county operations and bring value to the citizens of Maricopa County. When it is brought together as one well thought-out strategic plan and executed then we will have made real progress.”

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Arizona, States
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