Jim Sills was appointed state CIO in January 2009. He has 15 years of experience in banking and finance, including roles as president of Memphis First Community Bank and as COO at First Tuskegee Bank. He spent several years as a revenue division manager for the city of Wilmington and began his career as a statistician for the state Department of Finance under Delaware Gov. Pierre du Pont. Government Technology spoke with Sills in May at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers Mid-Year Conference in Washington, D.C.
What do you see as your top priority?
The biggest project we’re working on right now is IT consolidation. We’re engaged with four departments assessing their current hardware and software infrastructure and people. No. 2 would be data management and data governance. We’re trying to put in place the right governance, architecture and standards. We’re trying to create data marts and have better data exchange among departments. Today every department says, “It’s my data, and I don’t want to share it.” So we’re trying to encourage more data sharing versus everybody having all these single repositories.
What does your financial picture look like this year?
This year is better than last. When Gov. Jack Markell came into office, he had about a $600 million deficit. He reduced the budget to balance it, and then he also raised a few taxes. Now we’re forcasting a $320 million increase to the state budget. We’re figuring out if we can we take some funds and apply them to one-time initiatives. The governor is applying some of those funds to a jobs program, an infrastructure program and a number of different open space-related programs. So our overall economy is improving just a little bit.
Where is your interest level in virtualization and cloud computing — and did the big Amazon outage earlier this year change your opinion?
We are very interested in it, and we have a private cloud. The model we’re looking at going forward will be the hybrid. We’ll have some of our private data in a private cloud and some public data in the public cloud. We’ve been pushing virtualization for the last four years — we’re on top of these technologies and want to go a little further. They do save money; we’ve documented the cost savings.
If there were one thing you could change about the way government works, what would it be?
I’d like a way to have a pool of money for our employees when they do extraordinary things. I just think that would go a long way even in the current environment we’re in. People are focused on trying to improve overall service and delivery of service. It’d be great if they knew there was an incentive. If there was a way to incorporate that into our model, I’d like to have that ability. We had that in the private sector, and it drives people to hit dates and deliverables.