The Maine state government will overhaul its IT governance under a plan prepared by the state’s new chief information officer, Fred Brittain. Under Brittain’s plan, the Office of Information Technology will be reorganized into four branches, all of which will report back to the CIO’s office.
Brittain, a former University of Maine associate CIO whom Gov. Janet Mills appointed in April, wrote in his proposal to state agencies’ leaders that the reorganization is meant to align technology in a transparent way and give OIT’s customer agencies an voice in technology decision-making.
Under the plan, OIT will be divided into offices for information security, project management, enterprise shared services and client and infrastructure services, with Brittain and his management team at the center. Brittain himself answers to the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
According to the reorganization document, the enterprise shared services group will be responsible for application development and data services supporting the business functions of the state government’s 14 departments and their subordinate agencies. Client and infrastructure services will manage computing infrastructure and enterprise agencies.
As Maine’s CIO, Brittain oversees a staff of 450 responsible for implementing and managing the IT needs of an 11,000-person state payroll. At the time of his hiring, he told StateScoop he was focused on making his office “very customer-service oriented.”
Reached by phone Friday, though, Brittain said Maine’s IT governance hadn’t been refreshed in nearly a decade-and-a-half since 2005, when state consolidated its enterprise technology.
“A lot has grown in the agencies,” he said. “What I want to do is take the agencies that have someone really leading IT and bring those people and their unique needs to the table.”
Brittain described this approach as a hybrid between the existing consolidated IT enterprise and and acknowledgment that individual agencies have specific needs. He said it’s partly based on his quarter-century with the University of Maine, which also had a consolidated technology operation, but which Brittain said often clashed with the system’s seven campuses. Smoothing relations between individual schools and the head office was achieved by placing an IT officer on each campus who could serve as a bridge between local and statewide administrators, he said.
“We put people on the campuses, someone on the business side who also has a seat at the table,” he said
Brittain said he hopes this style of “inclusive leadership” works for the state government, too, as he goes on a “roadshow” for the 15 members of Mills’ Cabinet.
“I want the commissioners to participate in the process,” he said. “Ultimately we may not get it right in the first crack. I want to be able to fail fast and rapidly tweak the model.”