September 28, 2007 By Steve Towns
You're not a stranger to the organization. You were a key part of the team that has been working on this transition in Texas, but talk a little bit about how your position has changed now that you're the CTO. What's it like now, and how's it different?
Well, you know, I've been on the job about nine days. I think this is day 10, so you might have to ask me that question as a follow up. But honestly, I can give you the short answer. I served as the interim chief technology officer for the state for the preceding five months. So I can tell you based on the last five months, very little has changed from Friday May 25th, which I think was my first official day and Thursday May 24th. There is accountability to execute on some very strategic initiatives - that's our data center services initiative; telecommunications initiative; keeping our information communications technology, or ICT, cooperative contract program vibrant and meeting the needs of our constituents. I would say probably the biggest difference at this point is that I feel fully accountable, and you know, I love accountability. I think it's a very healthy pressure. I like that pressure, and I want that pressure in a constructive way to permeate both my staff within the Department of Information Resources and IT officials across Texas government.
Will people notice significant differences in the way you're going to do things and the way things were under former CTO Larry Olson?
I want to be really clear. Cliff Mountain, our new board chair for DIR, has stated this very eloquently - and I would agree - that we have a vision intact, and I covered that a moment ago. We have a mission intact. Our focus has got to be on executing on that mission. So in terms of vision, will our vision manifest itself in different ways than it's been documented to date? Certainly. Innovation is going to be a huge platform for me, and that will be part of our vision. But my focus is introspective in one regard, and that is we must execute on what I perceive to be a very well thought out, very well architected vision. It's taken us three years to define and refine that vision. Our focus will be on execution, so you will not see a holistic change in the vision, you will see an evolution - an incremental evolution to improve on the vision, but not revamp it.
First and foremost, it's about relationships. We have a lot of synergy with the Governor's Office, but we also have synergy with legislative leadership. It does get back to relationships, making sure the Legislature understands from our perspective that we are driven by the business necessity in Texas, the agencies' business. We are here to serve. We do want to be accountable. In fact, we embrace accountability and with that as our backdrop, the bottom line is we're here to execute public policy. We do not define public policy. That is a legislative activity and a Governor's Office activity, but we do execute public policy and we do it in the most effective and efficient means, and in the most accountability-driven fashion that we possible can.
In your first question you talked about what's ahead for DIR or what's in store for Texas. I know I've emphasized executing on the mission, but what I mean by that is implementation and management of what I call managed service delivery. That's things like telecommunications services, data center services, our state Web portal, which is TexasOnline. That's certainly going to be a huge emphasis. I talked earlier about the information and communications technology cooperative contracting program essentially to
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