NASCIO names winners of State Technology Innovator Awards

State technology officials in Colorado, Florida and Tennessee were recognized by the group for their contributions to advancing state technology policy.
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The National Association of State Chief Information Officers on Thursday recognized three state employees for their work advancing government technology, including projects in unemployment, health care eligibility and IT modernization.

The group presented three State Technology Innovator Awards to technology officials who had “made contributions to advance state technology policy through the promotion of best practices, adoption of new technologies and advancements in service delivery.”

The recipients are Everton Heron, an information systems technology manager for Tennessee’s health benefits system, TennCare; Kierston Howard, deputy director of Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment; and Douglas Smith, chief information officer for the Florida Office of the Attorney General’s Department of Legal Affairs.

Heron was named as a winner for “ushering TennCare into an era of exciting new capabilities.” Among these capabilities, according to NASCIO, are upgrades to the cloud-based Tennessee Eligibility Determination System, which “provided Tennesseans with increased access and ownership of their healthcare.”


“His vision has streamlined redundant approvals and shortened compliance processes that once took four weeks to three days, making for efficient, customer-centric service for 1.7 million members,” NASCIO’s announcement reads.

Howard was awarded for helping Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment field a flood of unemployment insurance claims following the onset of the pandemic. According to NASCIO, she used AI-powered virtual agents to help meet the influx of public requests for information at the state’s call center.

“She acted quickly and turned to technology to help triage all the requests and get citizens access to the information they needed to resolve their unemployment claim issues,” a NASCIO press release stated. “Citizens no longer receive busy signals when calling in for help and are getting access to representatives who can assist them with their claims.”

In Florida, Smith was recognized for leading an “innovative approach” to converting the entire application portfolio of state Attorney General Ashley Moody into the cloud. According to NASCIO, Moody’s office is the first in the state to modernize all of its applications.

“Mr. Smith’s efforts to modernize the enterprise content management back-office applications as well as the case management and customer relationship management systems, will bring expedited access to critical legal case data and greatly improve the efficiencies for state agency interactions in the handling of cases,” the announcement reads.

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