Appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2005, Gopal Khanna took over as CIO of the newly created Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) on Aug. 15, 2005, and began developing a new model for IT governance in the state.

In 2002 and 2003, Khanna was CIO and chief financial officer of the Peace Corps, for which he created an enterprise architecture program and developed a standardized computing platform serving the organization's 72 posts on four continents.

What was your first priority when you took over as Minnesota's CIO?

The governor was very clear when he asked me to serve, that his agenda was to transform government operations. Minnesota had just conducted a major planning project called the "Drive to Excellence" that, among other things, outlined a new IT governance model. This federated model maximizes shared and utility services to allow agencies to concentrate on modernizing their own business processes and improving their service to citizens. My No. 1 priority from day one was to operationalize that federated model and build the new Office of Enterprise Technology organization focused on customer service, business process re-engineering and systems modernization.

In January 2006, you said that the OET had been reinventing itself for the past four months. Can you elaborate on that?

The Office of Enterprise Technology was formed into a Cabinet-level agency last July by merging a small IT policy and oversight organization and the state's shared services organization. To meet the OET's new roles and responsibilities as outlined by the Legislature and implement the federated model as envisioned by the governor, we had to simultaneously reorganize our structure, rebuild our internal processes, and create a new governance structure for all of the state's IT program. Out of that will eventually come a central planning and services organization capable of providing a much wider range and higher volume of shared and utility services for the state enterprise.

You also mentioned an enterprise planning process. What is this?

Minnesota, like every state in the nation, faces a huge challenge and opportunity ahead as baby boomers begin to retire. If we have planned well, we will be ready to provide better government with fewer people.

In addition to our statutory obligation to review and approve agency IT budgets, the OET has initiated an unprecedented process in which we're working with agencies to determine which of their services should be agency-based and which can become shared or utility. Agency by agency, we're building a new planning process that will result in a clearly defined federated delivery model for IT services.

What do you hope to accomplish with the cyber-security gap analysis?

From my first day, it has been clear to me that the state was inadequately prepared for cyber-security threats to our infrastructure and data. My fears have been corroborated by a legislative auditor report and a cyber-security gap analysis we performed across 14 major agencies last fall. Like all of our other enterprise initiatives under the new federated model, we have taken a collaborative approach and created a State Information Security Council to advise the state's new CISO [chief information security officer] on security matters. We are also developing an "enterprise security framework" consisting of policies, procedures and technologies that will be rolled out statewide.

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor