One Year In: Collins looks to improve Delaware IT options

When James Collins took over as CIO last October, his main effort was to realign and optimize how the state delivers IT. Now, he's a year into the journey.

As Delaware’s first chief information officer to come from within the government, James Collins said he knows firsthand how the state’s Department of Technology and Information affects each agency.

“I’ve been a customer on the receiving end of DTI’s services,” Collins, who previously worked in the secretary of state’s office, told StateScoop in April. “I want to make sure we are transforming from a core services provider to a full-service IT provider because of our IT optimization efforts.”

Now, a year into the job, Collins said he’s used that experience to influence his work, focusing on providing IT services to help agencies achieve their missions.

“It’s interesting how the role has shaped in my head,” Collins told StateScoop earlier this month, close to his one-year anniversary on Oct. 10. “I really feel driven to unleash the potential of this organization for the benefit of our customer agencies, as well as the citizens that they serve.”


Collins has re-established the department’s Office of Change Management to help the state’s customer agencies adapt to the technology changes underway across the sector. In addition, Collins has been working to enact Gov. Jack Markell’s 2010 executive order that charged the department with centralizing IT services in an effort to make the government more efficient.

“There’s a lot that’s changing our organization, hence the realignment,” Collins said. “We’re still really focused on getting as close as we can to the business of our customers.”


In terms of infrastructure, the department has spun up a virtual cloud environment internally that allows officials to allocate server space as needed for certain services. The shift to virtualization, Collins said, allows the state to save money on in-house server maintenance, and to pay for cloud-computing services based on how much they consume. 



The department is also preparing to roll out application development teams that can embed within agencies to deliver mission-specific products, either within government, or through citizen-facing offerings like mobile applications or Web services.

“For those agencies who have custom applications that need to change frequently for their business needs, we’re going to offer an option that will actually put the developers in your space and really let them drill deep into your particular industry,” Collins said.  


Underlying all of the department’s IT realignment, though, is security, Collins said. Earlier this year, his team set up a security operations center under the state chief security officer.

“I wouldn’t be a CIO if I didn’t mention security,” Collins said. “The landscape has absolutely changed, the intensity of the attacks has absolutely changed.”


In addition to the SOC, Collins said the security arm of DTI is working on establishing a cybersecurity roadmap to determine the department’s goals 10 years from now, and what they need to today to get to that point.

“Our enterprise architecture folks are really working to establish those roadmaps,” Collins said. “They’re working with our customers, our experts internally and across the industry as well.”

This is the first installment in StateScoop’s “One Year In” series that evaluates people, projects and programs that are a year into their life cycle. Check back with StateScoop for more installments in the coming weeks.

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