Nevada’s top technology official, and one of a very few women to occupy the position at a state level, will be stepping down after nearly three years at the helm, she confirmed to Government Technology Feb.14.
Shanna Rahming, who became interim chief information officer in April 2015 and was made CIO six months later, will leave having set in motion and accomplished an ambitious list of enterprisewide upgrades.
“I can say it’s just been an honor. It’s an absolutely terrific opportunity and the state of Nevada is a fantastic place to be. I’m a native Nevadan and I was very honored to hold that position,” said Rahming, who had deep roots in higher education IT before joining the public sector.
Rahming’s last day will be March 3, Mary Woods, public information officer in the director’s office at the Nevada Department of Administration, said in an email. It’s unclear where she will land next.
Prior to joining the state Department of Administration, Rahming had worked for 11 years with the Nevada System of Higher Education. She was first at the University of Nevada, Reno, as a manager of user services for nearly five years. Following that, and immediately before her work in state government, Rahming spent six years as a business analyst at Truckee Meadows Community College.
She said in an interview last year that she found similarities in bylaws, regulations and biennial budgets – and differences in customer expectations – between higher education and government, but quickly took on a slate of high-profile modernizations, upon joining the state.
Among those, Nevada is currently refreshing its mountaintop microwave towers to accept a new Federal Communications Commission radio type and enable first responder networks – including FirstNet, which is expected to complete its core network early this year.
Updates to criminal justice technology are also under way, and the state recently completed modernization of in-vehicle messaging systems that connect law enforcement to command, and to their counterparts in cities, counties and states.
Rolling out statewide broadband is key as well, and Rahming said the state is working to deploy last-mile capabilities in urban and rural areas alike.
In June 2017, Nevada marked a milestone in cybersecurity, when the Legislature and governor approved Assembly Bill 471, which established the Office of Cyber Defense and Coordination within the Department of Public Safety. The office is the primary focal point for state and local cybersecurity strategy, policy and planning.
“It is a coordinated effort, so not only is it for the state, it’s also for all of the counties and all of the cities that they have a coordination point and also for the private sector. It’s a fantastic thing that we were able to get accomplished,” Rahming said.
The CIO told GT last year that she was also trying to bring a collaborative spirit with her from her previous work into government. One area where she was able to foster partnerships, Rahming said in an interview, was in opening state-level vendor contracts to lower-level agencies.
“We are still upgrading the infrastructure and refreshing it ... and we have done a lot of vendor contracts that were utilized throughout the entire state including local and county governments, to save all of Nevadans money,” Rahming said.
The state is also rolling out Office 365, integrating state email enterprisewide – and making this, too, available to education and lower-level governments through a master service agreement.
“Collaboration is, and was, a very big thing that I did work with all the different CIOs on. A big part of it was not just the IT direction for the entire state, but to try to save funding. We renegotiated many master service agreements. Some of these master agreements resulted in multimillion-dollar savings,” Rahming said.
“It’s always extremely exciting when you can save taxpayer funds,” she added.
During Rahming’s tenure, Nevada has also taken steps to encourage young people to consider state-level cybersecurity careers, partnering with the SANS Institute last year in its initial CyberStart online cybertraining course for high schoolers.
“And obviously trying to get more women into IT, period. Into technology. We were honored to get in with the Girls Go CyberStart,” Rahming said, referring to Nevada’s new partnership with SANS as one of more than a dozen states that are offering a follow-up CyberStart exclusively for female high school students.
Rahming’s departure will leave just five women in state CIO-level positions nationally: Minnesota CIO Johanna Clyborne; Arkansas Department of Information Services Director Yessica Jones; Colorado Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer Suma Nallapati; Kansas Interim Chief Information Technology Officer Donna Shelite; and California CIO Amy Tong.
“I think it’s sad that there are so few women in the role. I think that it’s something that we, as female technology leaders, are working hard to see what we can do to continue to get up to those roles,” Rahming said.