Wyoming’s new CIO, Flint Waters, is somewhat of a celebrity. In 2008, he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in a segment about online sexual predators. A former police investigator and chief of Wyoming’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, Waters developed software to track the activity of online predators by identifying computers trading child pornography on file-sharing networks.
Waters stepped into the CIO position in May during the transition to Google Apps for Government — a decision he wasn’t initially receptive to, but now praises.
What are your top priorities?
We have several, starting with a comprehensive and consolidated IT environment to facilitate the state’s needs. We are doing a private cloud for shared services, and we are standing up an enterprise program environment to better leverage expertise that the state receives as it develops new solutions.
What are your biggest challenges so far?
Moving from an environment where every agency has its own IT vision and plan, and trying to bridge those disparities and gaps. The funding model for our state has been to fund each project within an agency, so there has not been motivation to do enterprise-type development and infrastructure solutions. We are changing that.
Does your ICAC background influence you in your CIO position?
Very much so. In the past, the state stood up open government wireless access points with no transaction logging or authentication, and I know some of those were used by predators in an area where they are granted anonymity. In a sense, you have a business decision that provides a statute of limitations with these types of crimes, because if you don’t catch the individual at the computer, they walk away and there’s often no way to prosecute them. So we are far more conscientious. I was the CTO for 46 ICAC task forces around the country, so I’m used to operating with disparate government requirements. The solutions that I built back then are in 34 countries now, so I have a fair bit of experience in dealing with large-scale enterprise solutions.
How is Google Apps for Government working for Wyoming since its transition in June?
It has been above and beyond our expectations, and I don’t grant praise easily — that’s not my nature. But it really has been excellent, because now we have a scenario where the government game and fish, policy and budget offices can co-author a document simultaneously and see everyone’s edits in real time. It has been phenomenal in changing the mindset and allowing us to focus on working together and providing the solution to the citizen.