Editor's note: In this series, Public CIO set forth to find answers from several of the nation’s top CIOs who have served or currently are in state, local and federal positions. These firsthand accounts are about how establishing partnerships, trusting and letting go, investing in people, and assessing situations have all been instrumental to smart decision-making.

When I was asked to write an article about the smartest thing I’ve done as CIO, smart technology first came to mind. I recently saw a definition of smart technology that included initiatives like analytics, sustainability, mobile business and security. Like most cities and businesses, the Overland Park Information Technology Department has many of these exciting smart technology projects in the works. We are virtualizing our desktops, server hardware and applications; implementing new SAN technology; taking advantage of “thin-provisioning;” using business intelligence to improve the quality of information available to staff and management; rolling out a mobile website; and looking to use tablet technology in the field, just to name a few. I really can’t take credit for these initiatives — all the credit belongs to my talented staff.

I have been CIO of Overland Park for seven years, and about the time that I took over, there was almost a complete turnover in the city’s executive leadership ranks. Nine out of 12 department directors were new, and I wanted to establish a solid relationship with each one of them. I also wanted to branch out to other CIOs in the business community.

I began meeting with each department director for lunch and holding other informal meetings to gain an understanding of their expectations of the Information Technology and Facilities Department, to learn what I could do to strengthen their trust in the services that my department delivers, and equally important, to develop a personal and professional relationship with them.

Next was the development of relationships with the other CIOs in Johnson County. Overland Park is the largest city of the 22 cities inside Johnson County and the second-largest city in Kansas. Over the last 10 years, a fiber network was installed by each city and connected together allowing us to share data and resources. Currently Overland Park is the host for the police department CAD and records management application for the county and its cities. Without the relationships built, it would not be as easy to maintain the network and applications.

I also began seeking opportunities with organizations in the Kansas City area for CIO networking and joined the KC CIO Exchange. Members of this group include CIOs from some of the largest employers in the greater Kansas City area. I also became a member of Metropolitan Information eXchange, a national organization of city and county CIOs who represent populations that exceed 100,000.

Building relationships inside and outside the city of Overland Park has proven to be an invaluable asset to me for exchanging ideas and thoughts on the ever-changing world of technological advances. Just when you think you know it all, you find out that you don’t. And just as important, I’ve made a lot of new friends. So get out there!


More stories in the Smartest Thing series: 


Fralick is the former CIO of North Carolina -- and current CIO of the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice, and deputy CIO for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Terry Bledsoe | Investing in People

Bledsoe is the CIO of North Carolina's Catawba County.

Gail M. Roper | Expanding my Role

 Roper is the CIO of Raleigh, N.C.