Regional, global collaboration key to Austin technology efforts

For Steve Elkins, collaboration outside the boundaries of his city is essential to getting the job done and serving city residents.

Both within the central Texas region, and globally, Elkins has plugged into groups of other public sector technology leaders to learn more about how they do their jobs and what similarities and differences exist among their organizations.

“There are several IT organizations within the City of Austin, so I collaborate with those through our governance model that was set up under my leadership,” Elkins says in an October 2017 video interview with StateScoop.

Outside of Austin’s boundaries, however, Elkins formed the Central Texas Regional CIO Organization — a group that started just in the immediate area outside of Austin but has spanned south toward Corpus Christi and west to El Paso.

“It started off just within the Austin area, but we’ve actually reached out all the way [across the state],” Elkins says. “I do a lot of collaboration there.”

Elkins is also collaborating internationally — he’s one of the founding members of the Council of Global City CIO’s, which launched in September 2016.

“[The council] includes Dubai, big cities within the U.S. — San Francisco, Chicago, it’s D.C., it’s New York, it’s Boston, it’s Atlanta,” Elkins says. “We have a monthly conference call, we talk about what are some of our common challenges and what we want to do as an organization.”

Earlier this year, Elkins and the group went to Washington, D.C., to talk with congressional leaders and the FCC about net neutrality, local control and privacy.

“The group operates as a single voice, which I think is the right way to approach things,” Elkins says. “Even with my regional group here, there’s initiatives that I feel that if we operate as a large group versus individual organizations, then we can affect change faster.”