Photo: Bill Bryan, newly appointed CIO of Missouri
Missouri's former Attorney General Jay Nixon and then-Governor Matt Blunt attracted nationwide attention last year as the political opponents battled publicly over e-mail retention policies and other matters. Now that Nixon is in the governor's mansion, some changes are in the cards, including a new CIO. In a recent teleconference with the Center for Digital Government, newly appointed CIO Bill Bryan discussed his plans and the technology agenda of Governor Nixon.
After an 18-year career at the Missouri Attorney General's Office (AGO), Bill Bryan was appointed to the role of state CIO this January by newly elected Governor Jay Nixon. Bryan has been recognized both nationally and internationally for his progressive ideas using next-generation technology in animal agriculture. He is also known for handling complex environmental cases, including the Taum Sauk dam overflow disaster in which he discovered faulty programming logic as one of the causes of the $180 million catastrophe.
As a lawyer, Bryan helped blaze the path to using technology in the AGO. He recalled, during a recent teleconference with the Center for Digital Government, "We weren't quite at the carbon-paper stage, but we were close. Attorney General Nixon, who is now our governor, made me the guinea pig and I was the first attorney in the state of Missouri who had access to our green-screen environment." Bryan saw the advantages and potential productivity that could come from having Internet, word processing, legal research and writing at an attorney's fingertips in the form of desktop computers. Since then, he has been a proponent of using technology to help make government staff more efficient and effective in the way they do business.
Bryan attributes his appointment to the work he and Nixon did to establish Web presence in the AGO.
"We were like a lot of other state agencies with Web pages, [we] had a lot of content but weren't very strong in communicating a consistent message or presence for the Attorney General's Office," said Bryan.
So he hired a webmaster and led a series of projects to develop content and present it in a way that would encourage people to visit the Web site. He wanted to make it a trusted source for information. When the project first started, the AGO Web site had approximately 50,000 unique visitors per month. After completion of the eight-month project, the Web site reached one million unique visits per month and sustained that throughout the rest of Bryan's term in the AGO.
"I think Governor Nixon wanted me to be able to take what we accomplished there and build on it for the state of Missouri. We have Web pages that were, as I like to put it, 'made by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats,' meaning they're functional and there's a lot of information there, but it's very hard for a citizen to find what they are looking for. We want government to be more accessible and less frustrating than what we've got right now on some of our Web sites," said Bryan.
To help move accessibility forward, Bryan has appointed a deputy CIO of Web presence, the nation's first.
Modernization and Mobility
"The Web is the future and it's here. We just have to catch up to it," said Bryan, noting that many government legacy systems are obsolete and will have to be continually up-dated and customized if they are not replaced soon. Another problem with the old system is that the staff who runs them will soon be retiring. It is clear that a transition must be made. During this