Minnesota CIO Gopal Khanna has brought about major technology changes since he came on board in 2005. In 2007, he delivered the state’s first Master Plan for Information Technology. Under his leadership, Minnesota created standards for all desktops, servers, storage and cell phones used in state government. One thing he’s proud of today is his state’s work to leverage shared services for the benefit of multiple agencies. Khanna plans to retire this year, and his successor will undoubtedly have to work hard in 2011 to further the legacy that’s been left behind.
What were some of the issues and challenges that you thought were significant this last year?
We have been facing a lot of challenges reconciling the declining revenue stream with the commitments of the government, but the good thing is that Gov. [Tim] Pawlenty was able to balance the budget this past year. And we did a good job not only in balancing our budget, but also making serious investments in technology to help make government better for the future.
What do you hope to see happen in 2011?
One great thing that we have been able to put in place right now, which is under way, is the Commission on Service Innovation, [which] was established by bipartisan legislation. This legislation seeks to create a commission — which is going to give the Legislature a recommendation by Jan. 15, 2011, in time for the new administration to start — to talk about how we can improve and create opportunities for enhancing innovation in government by leveraging shared services solutions or any of the solutions that might be available.
When you look back at your tenure as CIO, what are one or two things you’re most proud of?
We’ve got very strong bipartisan support, and I’m very proud of that. I think that creates the framework for the next administration and the next CIO to do great things moving forward. We have put in place many initiatives that have leveraged shared solutions. In early September, we announced a groundbreaking agreement with Microsoft where, once again, we are taking an enterprise approach to deploying solutions that will benefit not just the executive branch, but also counties, cities and other units of government.
What advice would you give your successor?
My advice to the new CIO would be to continue working with the governor’s team, with the colleagues across all agencies from a business perspective, and start leveraging not only the shared solutions, but also think in terms of re-engineering the business processes of government, and that’s where the greatest benefit will come. We need to be citizen-centric. We need to recognize that citizens all across the country are demanding better performance from us. They’re demanding and asking for more transparency, accountability and access to government.