The state of the state's IT is strong, California's CIO, Clark Kelso said in his opening address at the State of the State of California IT meeting of technology executives yesterday in Sacramento. Now it is time to move forward to confront the challenges that will face state government moving into the future.

"We've taken the first step in the consolidation of a common IT infrastructure and systems with the creation of the Department of Technology Services," Kelso said. P.K. Agarwal will be starting at the department some time in mid-to-late October, according to Kelso. "I'm looking forward to working with P.K. to complete the organizational transformation that now is underway in that department.

"This past year, we spent a lot of time planning how we would actually do some of the goals we set for ourselves in last year's strategic plan. About halfway through the year, we began implementing [it]....and we are accelerating those implementation efforts," Kelso said.

The next challenge state IT officials face as those efforts begin to pick up speed is "to think hard about what it takes -- organizationally -- to do IT right because that is the big issue from the legislative perspective and certainly from the public's perspective," he said.

Kelso believes the state is doing IT right most of the time, but IT is a risky venture. "And doing IT right is very much a matter of proper risk management," he said.

However, the state needs to do more that just do IT right if it is going to successfully confront the challenges of service delivery it will face in the future. In the future, older people will outnumber younger people. Immigration from Europe will largely be replaced by immigration from Latin America and Asia, while gateway states in the West and South will see the largest population growth.

Furthermore, "these people are not going to be moving out to the middle of nowhere," Kelso said. "People are going to concentrate in urban areas. 85 percent of the growth is going to be in urban areas near to where there are government, medical and social services," he said.

Additional trends that are creating challenges for government agencies include the shift in economic growth being driven by service industries and new technologies. Other challenges will include increasing globalization and demand for resources, the privacy and security concerns created by increasing collection and analysis of citizens' personal information, political polarization and confused governance.

To meet these challenges, and as part of proper risk management, state IT executives will have to embrace a new view of their organizations -- the concept of the dexterous organization, Kelso said. The state has begun to implement the IT Strategic Plan and begun to deal successfully with the issues that made "change" and "adaptability" watchwords of last year's Statewide IT Leadership Summit. Now, California's technology executives need to create the new breed of technology organization by embracing throughout the organization a commitment to innovation, a willingness to take on and manage risk, forward-looking decision making, the delegation of authority commensurate with responsibility and by providing for the preservation of resources for unexpected contingencies.

Ingredients for a Dexterous Organization

  • "Commitment to innovation throughout the organization....It's not good enough to just have leaders who are committed to innovation. Innovation has to be systematically celebrated and rewarded. This is difficult for us to do at times in government. We don't have quite the same incentive programs. We can't put in place the same types of things that can be done in the private sector. But we actually can do a better job than we have been doing in celebrating and rewarding innovation. And we need to devote a significant amount of our organizational time to