Nelson Moe has had to balance two priorities since he became Virginia’s chief information officer 10 months ago: the future of the state’s information technology outsourcing agreement and Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s intense focus on cybersecurity.
In 2006, Virginia struck an agreement to have Northrop Grumman provide its IT infrastructure. But with that accord set to expire in 2019, Moe is working with his team at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency to determine how the state should handle its IT going forward.
Meanwhile, Moe has also served as a point person on cyber — helping to set up the first state information sharing and analysis organization, and carrying out several gubernatorial executive orders to boost the state’s defenses.
For these efforts, Moe was nominated for a StateScoop 50 GoldenGov award, which recognizes the state information technology leaders setting the course for the industry.
StateScoop talked with Moe about the outsourcing agreement’s future, his efforts in cybersecurity and his advice for the next generation of state IT leaders.
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?
Nelson Moe: I have been the CIO of Virginia and agency head at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) for just 10 months now. In that time, I have updated my agency’s mission and vision and set the agency on a path to be more agile and faster in delivering services to state agencies. Most significantly, we have made great strides in establishing the next generation of IT sourcing for the commonwealth. This includes support in the current state budget for the initial wave of service migration. There is funding for continuing this work in next year’s proposed budget.
SS: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time in your role? What’s still left to be done?
NM: I am most proud of the work in establishing the next generation of IT sourcing. A close second is receiving the support from the administration and legislature for establishing robust cybersecurity services. We need to implement these two efforts and establish a cloud service for state agencies.
SS: What’s been the biggest challenge you guys have faced in the past year? How’d you overcome it?
NM: The biggest challenge was juggling the priorities of the office (IT sourcing, procurement and project management) while trying to connect with the different state agency heads. It is still a work in progress, and I’m trying meet a different agency head face to face each week.
SS: Why public service? What lessons would you like to share with the next generation of state and local IT leaders?
NM: I started my public service in 1977 when I joined the Navy. I felt a passion to defend my country against communism and erase the stigma of Vietnam. My advice to the next generation of state and local leaders is to focus on the “Why?” and realize democracy is a very recent experiment in how humans govern. Democracy (elected self-government) has existed in just the last 240 years and recorded human history goes back at least 12,000 years.
SS: What advice do you have for next year’s eventual class of GoldenGov nominees?
NM: Do what you feel is right and have no fear.
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.