Three-state journey: Inside Sean Vinck’s cross-country time in public sector IT

For Sean Vinck, public service has always been a calling.

The law school trained information technology executive started out in state government as an assistant counsel for the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and just a few years later found himself running the information technology operation for the entire state under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

After Quinn’s loss to Republican Bruce Rauner in 2014, Vinck moved on from Illinois in 2015 and went to work as the director of Oregon’s enterprise IT transformation under his friend Oregon CIO Alex Pettit.

“I was really a senior adviser to Alex,” Vinck said, “working on procurement issues, and I helped them with some enterprise technology solutions.”

While in Oregon, Vinck also worked with the state legislature on legislation to officially create the role of the CIO. He also worked on a major telecommunications infrastructure replatforming — but his public service didn’t end there.

While in Oregon, Vinck got a call from Mark Nunnelly, the executive director of MassIT — Massachusetts’ information technology shop.

“[Nunnelly] told me about Gov. [Charlie] Baker’s vision for reforming information technology in the commonwealth,” Vinck said. “Mark is a really experienced and impressive man, and I was intrigued at the opportunity. That’s where I am now.”

Vinck hit the ground running as deputy chief information officer, chief procurement officer and chief legal counsel in Massachusetts. Since starting, he’s been working on “actualizing” legislation that increased the authority and breadth of what MassIT is responsible for. In that process, Vinck began work on an enterprise-wide procurement process for technology in the state.

“We feel like there are inefficiencies in the procurement process, and that a lot of project failures and problems have their nascent stage in the procurement process,” Vinck said.

In addition to procurement, Vinck also oversees the MassIT portion of the state’s health insurance exchange and is working on helping the department reform its IT project management.

“Those are things that I’ve had experience in, and if you notice, procurement is kind of a common thread through all of them,” Vinck said. “I’m an attorney. I’m particularly attracted to the public sector and government, especially in technology.”

And with a career that spans three states and three different state IT shops and policies, Vinck said he saw opportunity for innovation in his new state.

“When I was in Illinois, I spent a lot of time thinking about these issues,” Vinck said. “Massachusetts has a different set of laws that, quite frankly, are pretty progressive and open. There are many opportunities for the Commonwealth to partner with private sector firms and other governments to do interesting things in technology.”