Florida CIO Jason Allison is trying to bring the “new agency on the block” into the future of state government information technology.
In his role, Allison leads the two-year-old Agency for State Technology, which coordinates information technology efforts across the state. Before AST, Florida went through several CIOs and several IT agencies — all of which were eventually disbanded by the Legislature.
Allison hopes this time will be different. He’s spent nearly two years assembling a team to bring a new, team-oriented perspective to running a state IT agency.
Allison’s work led him to receive a nomination for the StateScoop 50 Awards’ “Golden Gov” category, which recognizes visionaries leading state government into a new technology landscape.
StateScoop talked to Allison about his work in Florida, his advice for young IT workers and his goals for the state’s IT future.
Editor’s note: This interview was edited for clarity and conciseness.
StateScoop: Tell us about some of your main achievements over the past year that may have resulted in your nomination for a GoldenGov award?
Jason Allison: The Agency for State Technology has accomplished a lot in its first two years. We’ve set up a solid foundation to address enterprise IT opportunities, collaborated with our agency partners to create an IT security framework, established best practices for project management, and worked with the Florida Legislature to enhance cybersecurity training and protect our state’s most critical data and assets.
SS: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time in your role? What’s still left to be done?
JA: I’m most proud of the team we’ve assembled. Since being appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in December 2014, I’ve sought out the best and most innovative minds in state government. We’re fortunate to have experienced, highly respected IT professionals who each bring unique talents and capabilities to the agency. It’s a very team-oriented, collaborative environment, and I look forward to seeing what we can collectively accomplish in the years to come with a culture built around adding value. We are here to support the business of government.
SS: What’s been the biggest challenge you guys have faced in the past year? How’d you overcome it?
JA: Being the “new agency on the block,” there are a lot of initiatives we want to tackle but understand the thoughtfulness that must go into addressing them. Technology can often be the driving force behind creating efficiencies and identifying ways to deliver improved services to our constituents. As we introduce these new ideas, we want to make sure our agency partners and stakeholders have an opportunity to offer recommendations and make suggestions to ensure a successful outcome. Making sure we demonstrate to our customers that we are in this together. We are completely vested in their success. Once they realize that, magic happens.
SS: Why public service? What lessons would you like to share with the next generation of state and local IT leaders?
JA: There is a lot of opportunity in state government; not only to serve the citizens of your state but also work with highly-motivated and dedicated professionals. I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by some of the best people, which makes the work we do even more rewarding. Working for government can sometimes present its challenges; but as with any challenge, I recommend that you address them head on and think outside the box.
SS: What advice do you have for next year’s eventual class of GoldenGov nominees?
JA: Be bold and unafraid. Hire well and empower your team to make decisions. Never be an impediment. Technology in government can be transformative. Just because something has been done the same way for years doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. Don’t look at challenges as obstacles — rather, opportunities to truly modernize and better serve our constituents.
This Q&A is part of a StateScoop series highlighting the nominees for the StateScoop 50 GoldenGov award. To vote for this nominee, and to vote in the other categories up for awards, go to the StateScoop 50 awards page. Winners of the StateScoop 50 awards will be announced on May 4.