Meet the govies: Q&A with Maine CIO Jim Smith

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“Meet the Govies” is StateScoop’s regular Q&A with the people that work inside state technology. If you work in state government and would like to be featured or know of someone good to nominate, email david.stegon@statescoop.com.

Name: Jim Smith

Title: CIO

State: Maine

Agency: Department of Administrative and Financial Services

What made you want to work in government technology?

After a long IT career in the private sector, I wanted a chance to bring some of my experience and training to bear in the public sector – a chance to give back. I have held IT leadership positions in multiple Fortune 500 companies and have lead IT workforce development (how do we find the next generation of IT resources?), innovation projects and development off shore. In the public sector, I have found dedicated employees, employees who want to do the right thing for their citizens and states that want to work together to share best practices and successes.

What project are you working on that you are most proud of?

Methodology: Almost all new projects are done using agile/scrum. We are seeing strong results as we move away from waterfall—more predictability, early ability to have users test, transparency and avoiding any surprise setbacks two years into a project. To be successful with agile requires training, professional guidance and willing business partners.

Execution: Maine has introduced Business Process Management (BPM) in several areas to bring efficiency, transparency and end user control to processes. We have already had some early successes, in one case bringing an agency process that had taken 48 days down to 4 hours.

Project Login: Working with the universities, private business and government, our goal is to double the number of IT graduates within five years. To date, we have added over 100 paid internships for college students, have revamped college IT offerings and support and have introduce more STEM activities to elementary and middle schools (robotics, coding competitions).

How have you tried to bring innovation into government?

Our goal is to be more efficient, for both IT and agency partners, in an environment of tight budgets and funding. As noted above, we have introduced agile methodology to be more predictable and successful in project delivery. And we have introduced Business Process Management to bring efficiency, transparency and agency control to processes. We still have too many areas that are paper and manual process bound – BPM will eliminate that. We are working to create an environment where IT, and our agency partners, can continue to be successful in their citizen services.

As part of our public-private partnership, on the workforce development side, we have been holding yearly ‘Tech Nights” for high school students. At these events, 40 – 50 local high school students spend three hours with us to talk to IT professionals and do hands-on activities for coding, cybersecurity and IT operations.

What things can we expect from you and your agency coming up?

Workforce Development: In light of the upcoming baby boomer retirements, we revamped our hiring and retention process to dedicate a full time resource to finding IT talent. As part of this process, we created an IT intern program (over 70% of our IT interns have become full time employees), we have strengthen our connections with the local colleges and universities and we have instituted a strong mentorship program for new employees.

Cybersecurity: In Maine, we have built a strong partnership with the National Guard, the State Emergency Management Agency, the Universities and my organizations to share best practices and capabilities. In addition to common cyber practice exercises with these groups, one of the tangible results of this is the creation of a secure, state-wide cybersecurity lab, which will be available to organizations throughout the state for testing and will be used to train future cybersecurity professionals.

 

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Maine, Meet the govies, States
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