State CIOs share their digital services aspirations

Each of 11 state CIOs has a different vision for the future of digital services in their state.

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When it comes to the future of digital services offered by state agencies, state chief information officers say almost unanimously that they’re striving to make improvements.

Eleven CIOs told StateScoop they want services that are easier for people to access, less time-consuming and better aligned with their governors’ goals. But within that common theme are variations in vision and execution that could lead states to vastly different outcomes. 

Improving digital services across an enterprise as vast as a state government is a large open-ended project, the CIOs said. The degree to which states succeed at this universal endeavor will be heavily influenced by the precision of thinking and weight of influence that their CIOs can bring to bear on their digital services initiatives.

Here’s what state CIOs told StateScoop when asked about their aspirations for digital services.

Mark Raymond, Connecticut CIO

We aspire for Connecticut’s services to be online, available, and accessible. Residents expect efficient and useful services. As we embark towards an all-digital government, Connecticut’s services must be safe, easy to navigate, and serve the public even better than we do today. By equipping government with better digital services, agencies can redirect time and attention towards residents needing personalized assistance. Finally, in a world growing more digital by the day, residents also require hardware, connection and education to utilize improved government services. As such, we plan to progress digital government with improved participation, inclusion and equity for all.

James Grant, Florida CIO

We’ve made incredible progress going from zero state agencies ever collaborating on cybersecurity to over 35 integrated into the CSOC. The Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program has been one of the first big tests for the current team, and the response — 100-plus applications in the first month — has been remarkable. With that infrastructure in place, we’re in a position to really scale to the next level. That means adding more entities to our statewide operations, providing more capabilities to existing partners and continuing to build the data catalog so we know what we’re protecting. The executive and legislative branches have always been supportive, and what we’ve accomplished has proved the return on that investment. It’s set us up for a successful legislative session, and the proposals so far have reflected that trust and recognition of how important our mission is.

Shawnzia Thomas, Georgia CIO

“Do the right thing and do the thing right.” That motto is driving Georgia’s efforts to ensure that citizens are able to access state information and services without any digital and usability barriers. Success begins with making it easier for state agencies to do the right thing when it comes to designing and developing services that align to standards and guidelines based on best practices. That’s why GovHub, Georgia’s content publishing system, includes important built-ins like accessibility, structured content and mobile first. Our digital services team is currently working on a design system — “Orchard” — aimed at creating a consistent user experience across multiple digital properties while lightening the load on designers and developers. Having pre-designed and ready-to-use digital components reduces effort and cost while boosting the maturity of disparate digital systems across state government.

Tarek Tomes

Tarek Tomes, Minnesota CIO

To build the digital services that Minnesotans deserve, we must ask, “How might we meet Minnesotans where they are at? How might we provide agility to Minnesotans in how they interact with government?” We want to earn the right to be the only provider of a service that Minnesotans need, and to build inclusive designs that serve Minnesotans of all races, ethnicities, religions, economic statuses, gender identities, sexual orientations, (dis)abilities and ZIP codes. We want to encourage state employees to be inspired by and advocate for the ways technology helps the people they serve. Every time that you interact with the State of Minnesota, you should feel your time, energy and needs are valued. We want to take a critical digital strategic asset, our application portfolio, to make more products like MNbenefits, which has saved Minnesotans nearly 16 million minutes in benefits application time through human-centered design, collaboration and innovation.

Ed Toner, Nebraska CIO

To ensure we make our statewide services easily accessible we are focusing on the creation of a “no wrong door” digital portal essential to ensure easy access and value for Nebraska taxpayers. Each agency has made much progress over the past few years in offering digital services, but we need to optimize the siloed agency services by combining them via a single portal. We are beginning with the Department of Health and Human Services with a project named iServe. Our goal is to expand this same approach and single entry point to services across all of state government.

IServe Nebraska is a convenient new way for Nebraskans to apply to get help with food, heat, electricity, healthcare, childcare and other essential needs. Nebraskans can apply for a single benefit, or several at the same time. We provide an opportunity for Nebraskans to easily explore benefits they may qualify for with a completely anonymous questionnaire, which takes less than 3 minutes, by simply clicking on the “start questionnaire” button on the iServe site.

James Weaver, North Carolina CIO

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology envisions the delivery of a full array of governmental services and programs in a way that works for all people, with no constraints for devices or time of access. We want to focus on what our residents, businesses and visitors need — how they need it and how they want to use it. We aspire to empower people to fully participate in today’s digital world by ensuring everyone has access to affordable, high-speed internet and that they have the digital know-how to participate safely and responsibly. As we make pivots and paradigm shifts to modernize legacy systems and embrace cloud technologies, we aim for a strong, diverse workforce equipped and prepared for these new opportunities. All our digital efforts will be built on the foundations of cybersecurity and privacy. We succeed when our residents have trust and confidence that we are protecting their privacy.

Katrina Flory, Ohio CIO

Our biggest aspiration at the InnovateOhio Platform is to provide the most innovative and effective tools state agencies can leverage to better serve all Ohioans. The digital era transformed the way people experience and respond to the world. Digital self-service tools focused on the user experience afford immediate results that remove red tape, maximize innovation and empower agencies to set their own pace. We serve as their catalyst to operational efficiency by bringing modern technology to business.

Our key philosophies are:

  • Self-service tools lower the barrier to entry.
  • Build low-code, enterprise-grade solutions.
  • Shifting left: Involve security and review architecture early in the process.
  • Change management and user journey management.

Holistic and transparent change management is critical to decrease resistance and ensure successful implementation. Through outcome-driven continuous quality improvement we assess needs, create sound products and services, then guide our partners through education and support.

Amanda Crawford, Texas CIO

Over the years, the Texas Department of Information Resources has integrated several enterprise services into the state’s digital assistant, Texas by Texas, or TxT. Texans are rapidly adopting TxT to interact with state government agencies, and our strategic roadmap is to add more services and functionality, while focusing on the security and privacy of constituent data. Future services could include the integration of additional professional licenses, offering boating registration renewals and allowing for auto renewal functionality for certain use cases.

Alan Fuller, Utah CIO

In the State of Utah, our top priority is to provide citizens with a personalized portal that will digitally deliver government services. In the portal, citizens should be able to see their own data and transact business. For example, they should see their vehicle registrations and renewal dates, their fishing license, their hunting license, tax return information, immunizations and all other state credentials or records that pertain to them. They should be able to receive notifications or reminders and start new applications for anything from social services to permits and business licenses. Through this citizen portal, the state will be able to make it easier, smoother and quicker for citizens to interact with the state. We want to dramatically improve the customer experience citizens have with state government services.

Bill Kehoe, Washington CIO

State government traditionally has worked in silos, with agencies controlling access to their services. WaTech has launched an ambitious initiative to transform state services through a “connected government” where residents can more easily access what they need — whether it’s getting a license, applying for unemployment or bidding on a government project — without going to multiple agency websites.

A key component of this effort is our resident portal — The portal, a massive upgrade of a website first created in 1998, makes it easier to discover and access services. features an updated look and new features including “how-to” guides on becoming a resident, voting in elections, exploring the state’s parks and trails, and more. The website is a starting point for future enhancements and will be steadily upgraded to offer additional features, including personalized and localized content, until it reaches the ultimate vision of a connected government.

Trina Zanow, Wisconsin CIO

Wisconsin is very engaged in modernizing our applications to improve the citizen customer experience. One part of that is replacing old identity management solutions with a modern cloud-hosted service. This allows us to provide better security with multi-factor authentication, reduce the number of different accounts needed, and create a cleaner, easier end-user experience.   

We’re also deeply invested in converting from monolithic code to modular apps that are easier to update quickly. By leveraging containers we’re allowing workloads to run on the platform that best serves their needs. Whether that’s through our own on-premise or cloud-based systems, we can put the code close to the data.

Finally, we are challenging organizational silos everywhere. “Write once, use many” is bigger than just a coding mantra, it’s a fundamental way of leveraging our workforce to provide applications that are easier for our citizens to navigate. All of this is building towards a “front door” experience, where you don’t have to know which section of which agency provides the assistance you’re looking for, you can come to the front door and we’ll help you get to the floor and service you’re looking for.