As Delaware consolidates IT, leadership tries to ‘get out of the way’

For Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins, the state’s IT centralization efforts are about more than just saving money and improving efficiency. They’re a portal to improved citizen experience. Delaware is finding, like many states, that average people see government differently than public servants do.

“Citizens don’t see us as branches, or divisions or agencies,” Collins says. “They see us as the government.”

In September, Collins reported his state was more than 40 percent through its IT consolidation. And as more responsibilities fall under a centralized Department of Technology and Information, the department continues to search for new projects through which to improve citizen interaction with state government. Projects that range from health and human services to transportation keep his state busy, Collins says, as he upholds main priorities of cybersecurity, continued IT centralization and broadband expansion.

“We’ve got a lot of things in motion,” Collins says about his ongoing projects. “We’re doing the first cloud-based child welfare system in the nation. That project is going well. It’s the first purely agile project that we’ve got going on in the state.”

The centralization will also present an opportunity for the state to pursue a more organized effort around analytics, Collins says.

“[We need to use] the state’s data as an asset so that we’re making better decisions, we’re preventing fraud and we’re proactively communicating to citizens,” Collins says. “All of those things position us to do those initiatives.”

But as Collins continues to move the centralization forward, he says he’s doing his best to step aside and let his employees get to work, without a lot of undue interference from the top.

“This is going to sound really weird coming from the CIO, but what I’m trying to figure out and work with our team and all of our partners on is — how do we get out of the way?” Collins says.