Which States Have the Best Technology?

The 2014 Digital States Survey grades states on how well they use technology to serve their citizens.

by / September 2, 2014

In the map above, red signifies a grade in the A category; blue signifies a grade in the B category; and gray signifies a grade in the C category. Click a state to learn its exact grade, and why that grade was given. The contents of this map are also available at the end of this story

Results for the 2014 Digital States Survey are in, and they paint a picture of progress in the world of government IT.

Three states received an A grade this year as Michigan and Utah, two states that consistently score highly on the survey, are now joined in the top echelon by Missouri, bumped up from a B+ grade in 2012.

Every two years, the Center for Digital Government (CDG), the research and advisory arm of Government Technology’s parent company e.Republic, evaluates state government’s ability to improve internal processes and better serve citizens. This year’s results are positive, and foreshadow a bright future, said CDG Executive Director Todd Sander.

“States have made thoughtful, and for the most part, wise decisions on where they invested over the last couple years in particular,” Sander said. “They needed to because financial resources were scarce and the competition in the enterprise was high. We’re starting to see that really pay off now.”

Of the 50 states surveyed, 21 improved their grade since 2012, 17 states remained the same, and 12 states saw a drop. As a group, the states are doing well and even the states with lower grades didn’t drop by much, Sander said. All 12 states with decreased grades dropped by just one step, going from an A- to a B+, for instance.

The distribution of grades is trending up in 2014, with eight states in the A range, the same as in 2012, and 30 states in the B range, up from 22 in 2012. Twelve states received grades in the C range, and no states scored lower than a C-, compared to 2012, when Florida and Idaho both received D grades.

Connecticut and Idaho each made big jumps this year, Connecticut moving from a C up to an A-, and Idaho improved from a D to a B. Connecticut’s progress is largely a result of Gov. Dannel Malloy pushing for a stronger emphasis on technology. Florida’s bump from a D to a C was facilitated by legislation that revived the state CIO’s office for the second time in recent years.

Missouri Makes the Grade

Missouri’s jump from a B+ to an A was partially the result of work done around collaboration. Projects like the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, a website designed to encourage citizens to exercise and share their progress through social media, demonstrated a successful marriage of civic engagement, data, and modern technologies. Missourians have reported more than 2.3 million miles traveled on state trails since the project’s launch.

“They’ve done a lot of good work in supporting the legislative and judicial branch,” Sander said. “One of the most important things is they’ve done a really good job of defining and describing how what they’re doing is aligned with the policy, position and priorities of the governor, the legislature, and the citizens of Missouri, and how they’re using technology to directly support those.”

Like Utah and Michigan, Missouri excelled in the six areas of judging criteria more so than the other 47 states, Sander said. The states that scored A grades did the best job of making their strategies consistent with their state’s priorities and policies; proving a quantifiable return on investment through IT; demonstrating progress over the past two years; using creative and innovative solutions; collaborating between departments and jurisdictions; and using successful approaches to transparency, privacy and security.


View our infographic with more Digital States statistics here: How Digital Are States in 2014?


Missouri CIO Tim Robyn said the state's success stems from executive leadership from Gov. Jay Nixon and support from the Legislature -- support that continues throughout state government. “It is certainly an honor for our state to be mentioned alongside Utah and Michigan, and there are literally thousands of hard-working individuals that have been involved in our efforts,” Robyn said. “The willingness to work together has allowed our team of dedicated state IT professionals and private-sector partners to work together and change the way government operates, making it more effective and efficient while enhancing citizen access to services.”

Utah at the Top

In addition to receiving an A grade in 2014, Utah scored an A in 2012 and 2010, placed first in 2008 before a grading system was adopted, and scored consistently well in each previous year. By management’s account, that success is derived largely from an emphasis on meeting public expectation of service delivery.

The public expects to be able to interact with their government using new convenient technologies, and with the new services that states like Utah are delivering, that expectation is being met, Sander said. “Particularly Utah has done an awful lot with raising the bar on electronic services, on direct citizen engagement, not just from the push information at them standpoint, but actually opportunities with them to engage and transact and do business with government,” he said. “All three of the As have done a lot in that regard.”

Utah Chief Technology Officer Dave Fletcher cited the state’s project management as one of the key reasons for the continued success. “Utah has a good portfolio management process that we use every year that makes sure we’re doing things in every area,” Fletcher said. “The fact that Utah is consolidated into a single IT organization helps us a lot because we can really focus resources, and everything comes under a common direction.”

Utah’s IT organization was consolidated in 2005 by the state Legislature, pooling all cabinet-level IT functions into one central agency. Utah Chief Information Officer Mark VanOrden agreed that consolidating IT functions has given the state a huge advantage that has translated into more online services and a higher rate of civic tech adoption than many other states.

Utah now offers about 1,100 online services, VanOrden said. “Last year we had over 33 million transactions that the public performed online,” he said. “A year and a half ago, the University of Utah did a study on those transactions and found that for every transaction we perform online as compared to someone coming into one of our offices, we save over $13 per transaction.”

Online services are therefore extremely important to Utah state government, VanOrden said, and they will continue to launch programs like their weekly unemployment insurance claims program, which has completely eliminated paper-based processing, and the state’s Vehicle and Dealer Registration System (VADRS), which launched in October 2013.

VADRS manages more than 2.5 million titles and registrations annually, 2,700 dealership and body shop licenses, and 12,000 sales licenses -- it brought a higher level of customer service and reduced costs for the state, VanOrden said. The overhaul involved the training of more than 300 people, and support from more than 24 county offices. But it was worth the huge effort, he said, because the state's department of motor vehicles leads the nation in online registration. 

“We’ve got a very innovative population here in Utah. Ninety-four percent of the population has access to the Web, which leads the nation. Most people are very computer literate in the state, and that helps us be successful,” VanOrden said, adding that the state’s portal saw visitors from more than half of the state’s population of 2.8 million people last month.

Being a successful IT organization mainly comes down to having good people, he said. “I’ve got a chief operating officer who worked in the private sector for 35 years and was the CIO for a Fortune 500 company,” he said. “I’ve got a chief information security officer who worked with Deloitte in security assessments and state governments for 15 years. Dave Fletcher sitting next to me here is probably the smartest human being I’ve ever met, and besides that, he’s very forward thinking and innovative. I’m just surrounded by very good people.”

High Marks for Michigan

In Michigan, consistent success has come from a wide range of consistent support, said CIO David Behen. In addition to scoring an A in 2014, Michigan also scored an A in 2012 and 2010, and placed among the top two positions going back to 2004.

“It is the executive sponsorship and leadership from Gov. [Rick] Snyder and the support we get from the legislators and our agency partners,” Behen said. “Being a centralized IT organization, those attributes are what make us successful, plus the great team we have here – not just the IT team, it’s also our IT strategic partners from the private sector that come in and help us do the things we’re very successful with.”

Michigan launched several large projects over the past two years that contributed to its success, Behen said, including a Medicaid compliance program, and a childrens’ well-being management system. Cybersecurity and mobile technology also remained a strong focus areas for the state, he said, adding that Michigan also launched an enterprise big data project last year and it's looking forward to seeing the fruits of that labor.

Michigan’s IT department also was recognized for its success in financial management. The state’s project and resource management has been streamlined in the past two years, something Behen said he’s proud of. “We have data now that can not only justify the project, but also we can track our projects so much better than we used to in the past," he said. "It allows for us to be accountable for the dollars that we’re given."

Behen recognized that many of the benefits his state and others are now realizing are the result of diligence and innovation wrought from hard economic times of the near past. Continuing that same mindset of innovation and collaboration is possible with concerted effort, he said.

“You don’t want to get fat and sassy, right? You want to stay on the edge of things,” Behen said. “I would hope that that continues, and I would say it’s not a bad exercise every so often for organizations public and private to go through looking at what you’re doing and how effective and efficient are you in that, and continuing on that path of improvement.”

View the results of the 2014 Digital States Survey.

View the text of our state by state analysis on page 2.

State by State Analysis


Alabama
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C

Alabama lawmakers created an Office of Information Technology in 2013, giving the state a cabinet-level position dedicated to information technology for the first time in its history. The new office is responsible for statewide IT strategic planning, governance and resource utilization. Since its creation, the central technology office helped push a number of modernization projects, including a move to replace aging financial and HR applications with a new ERP system.


Alaska
2014 grade: C-
2012 grade: C

Jim Bates became director of the state's Enterprise Technology Services in 2013. In news reports, Bates says the state is launching a private cloud service and working to increase its e-government offerings to citizens. 


Arizona
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: C

Arizona's grade made a significant leap in the 2014 survey, powered by steadily growing IT investment and a rapid embrace of cloud-based solutions. State CIO Aaron Sandeen worked with Gov. Jan Brewer's budget director to create a new fund specifically for large-scale IT projects. The fund has pumped nearly $100 million into IT modernization projects since it was launched in fiscal 2013. The Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology office oversees the fund to ensure that projects conform to the state's enterprise architecture and other requirements. Arizona's modernization activities include a growing emphasis on both cloud and open source technologies. In addition, the state has boosted investment in training for IT staff.


Arkansas
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B+

Arkansas has the highest percentage of cellphone-only households in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Therefore, the state has adopted a comprehensive mobile-first policy and says it launches around 100 new online apps annually tailored to mobile users via responsive design or native app technology. Improving broadband connectivity is a key focus for Gov. Mike Beebe, and several broadband initiatives are under way aimed at expanding access for education, health care, economic development and government efficiency. The Arkansas Private Cloud offers infrastructure and platform as a service for state and local agencies. And the Arkansas CIO Academy provides leadership and skills training for agency CIOs and state IT staff.


California
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: A-

More than a decade in the making, California's massive statewide ERP system completed its first phase of deployment in July. The system -- dubbed the Next Generation Financial Information System for California or Fi$Cal -- is intended to streamline 2,500 legacy financial systems used by 124 departments. The state Office of Technology Services also launched a new private cloud offering this year to provide state and local government agencies with hosted infrastructure, platform and storage services.


Colorado
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B+

Colorado was one of the first states to adopt cloud-based email and document management, moving 26,000 state employees to the Google Apps for Government platform in late 2012. Since then, the state has moved other major applications to the cloud and implemented workflow automation using the hosted Salesforce platform. Colorado also has been a leader in open data and data analytics. The online Colorado Information Marketplace lets citizens view raw public data or use the information to generate maps or build customized apps. And the state is investigating the use of analytics to see how factors like early childhood education or an incarcerated parent impact the success of K-12 students.


Connecticut
2014 grade: A-
2012 grade: C

Connecticut posted one of the biggest improvements in the 2014 survey. Inheriting a neglected IT infrastructure upon taking office in 2011, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy drove efforts to improve both technology and business processes. The state created an Enterprise IT Investment Fund that provides money for multi-agency projects that align with state business objectives. Twenty-four projects have received funding so far. A committee of seven agency commissioners governs the fund. Connecticut also launched a statewide effort to transform business operations using LEAN principles. The successful rollout of Access Health CT, the state's health-care exchange, caught the eye of the Obama administration, which recently tapped Access Health CT director Kevin Counihan to run Healthcare.gov.


Delaware
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B-

Delaware may have been the first state to use cloud computing, deploying a private cloud in 2009. The state also pioneered the development of contract terms and conditions for cloud procurements. Since 2012, the state has increased investments in major projects, cloud solutions and mobile apps. The state says it launched 70 new cloud applications over the past two years, including an app that streams live video from state police helicopters to laptops, smartphones or tablets.


Florida
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: D

One of two states to earn a D grade in 2012, Florida improved to a C this year, largely on the strength of successful legislation to re-establish a central technology office and state CIO position. A bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June created the Agency for State Technology and established 25 new technology positions including a CIO, CTO and CISO. The new agency, which is responsible for statewide technology operations and strategy, replaces the Florida Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, which was scrapped in 2012 in a fight between Scott and the state Legislature.


Georgia
2014 grade: A-
2012 grade: B

Georgia moved early to centralize state IT and transition to the cloud through outsourcing deals with IBM and AT&T. Over the past five years, those arrangements have let the state modernize and virtualize key technology systems. The services-based approach also led to the development of detailed reports on IT consumption and costs – giving agencies better transparency on how usage patterns affect the price of IT services. In 2013, Georgia moved its state portal and a number of agency websites to the open source Drupal content management platform hosted in Acquia’s cloud.


Hawaii
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B-

Under Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii has made steady progress in replacing outdated infrastructure and modernizing technology systems. Abercrombie appointed the state’s first CIO in 2011 – Sonny Bhagowalia – who released a 12-year IT transformation plan centered on developing IT governance policies and deploying new shared services. However, Abercrombie will not serve a second term, after losing in the state's Democratic primary in August to Sen. David Ige, who also has tech plans for the state.


Idaho
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: D

After posting one of the worst grades in 2012, Idaho made one of the biggest leaps in this year's survey. Gov. Butch Otter signed legislation in 2013 to create the Idaho Technology Authority, which has broad authority to set IT policy and approve large-scale projects. The state also adopted a wide-ranging cloud strategy and is moving a number of key systems to hosted platforms, including ERP, email, GIS, and licensing and permitting. Government Technology interviewed state CTO Greg Zickau in 2013. 


Illinois
2014 grade: C+
2012 grade: B-

Under Gov. Pat Quinn, state IT efforts have focused on transparency and efficiency. The recently signed Open Operating Standards Act directs executive branch agencies to make public data sets available through a single Web portal and to evaluate Web services. Illinois made news last year when it entered an agreement to share Michigan's Medicaid Management Information System instead of developing a system of its own.


Indiana
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B+

Indiana’s motto could easily be: data, data, data. And its high-ranking transparency portal — named No. 1 in the nation by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group — is just one aspect of that. Gov. Mike Pence is moving Indiana to become a data-driven state, which will be made possible in part by the key performance indicator measurements that are included in the Management and Performance Hub, launched in June. The program is tied to all cabinet-level agencies and will be expanded to all of the state’s agencies and systems, as leaders seek to identify correlations in data to solve problems. For example, Indiana has been using analytics as part of an effort to reduce infant mortality and child fatality rates, which have ranked as some of the highest in the U.S.


Iowa
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B

Gov. Terry Branstad seeks to leverage technology in enterprisewide solutions like consolidated email based on successes from state agencies. Numerous IT policies made during the last two years have been set through the Legislature and executive orders including making the CIO’s office a stand-alone agency and creating a STEM advisory council. In addition, the state’s use of infrastructure as a service through Michigan’s MiCloud has provided the policy framework needed to establish connectivity with other states.


Kansas
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: C+

Gov. Sam Brownback has identified four goals as part of his road map for the state’s future — grow the economy, reform state government, excel in education and protect families — all of which IT is supporting. The Office of Information Technology Services, for example, has modified tax systems, looked for ways to use IT to increase efficiency and cost savings, and completed a pilot study to determine the capabilities of next-generation 911. Turnover in the state CIO’s role in the past prevented Kansas from having strong IT leadership, but since the current chief was hired in 2011, followed by other key technology roles, the executive team and set strategies have implemented change and provided a clear focus for the future.


Kentucky
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B+

Kentucky has maintained its B+ grade and became a national example after the smooth rollout of its health insurance exchange, which has been lauded and awarded. It has also used Web portals to simplify the process for opening a business and utilized GIS to make it easier to locate business properties, aiming to increase economic development. To increase efficiency at the state level, a 2012 executive order from Gov. Steve Beshear called for the IT Infrastructure Initiative to consolidate technology services and procurement, which will be completed by September 2015.


Louisiana
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B

Louisiana is employing enterprise metrics and IT consolidation to move the state forward. Created during the 2014 legislative session, the Office of Technology Services is now home to more than 700 people who were previously located in 30-plus departments. The transition from a federated IT model is built upon 21 deliverables, including a sourcing and procurement strategy.


Maine
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: C

Maine moved up a full grade from the 2012 survey, and its portal took fifth place in the state category in last year’s Best of the Web awards. Technology supports Gov. Paul LePage’s four policy priorities: job creation (portals for job search and to promote business growth), lowering taxes (using tech to decrease the cost of government operations), welfare reform (prescreening residents’ eligibility for numerous programs via online portals) and domestic violence awareness (examining how to use tech to reduce domestic violence). Maine has been recognized for its use of business process management; the IT office looks for efficiencies and processes across the state. It’s also proactively preparing for the retirement of 20 percent of its IT workforce through a variety of initiatives including internship programs, outreach to high schools and colleges, and a veterans hiring program.


Maryland
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B-

The state’s core objectives of IT consolidation, interoperability and standardization continue to drive its technology forward, while also using StateStat to monitor performance management. IT initiatives since the 2012 Digital States Survey include launching a wireless interoperable public safety radio system and the creation of Web templates based on responsive design that agencies have employed as part of a mobile-first strategy. In April, the Maryland Open Data Policy was signed into law and established the Council on Open Data, which brings together dozens of private- and public-sector leaders to focus on government transparency.


Massachusetts
2014 grade: B-
2012 grade: B

Gov. Deval Patrick has focused on how IT investments can create a more efficient state government and in line with that, signed an executive order early this year elevating the role of the CIO. By shifting the responsibility of running day-to-day IT to a chief operating officer, the CIO can now focus more on technology strategy across the state. In addition, the state completed a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network that’s connecting schools and health-care facilities and enhancing public safety operations. Government Technology interviewed CIO Bill Oates in January when he moved to the state after leading Boston’s IT.


Michigan
2014 grade: A
2012 grade: A

Michigan has been a top performer for years, also earning A grades in the 2012 and 2010 Digital States Surveys -- one of only two states to do so. The state centralized IT operations more than a decade ago, and is a leader in enterprise technology deployment and shared services. Michigan has budgeted nearly $50 million annually to upgrade old technology systems and modernize processes. An online dashboard launched last year lets citizens track spending and progress on technology projects. And data sharing agreements now are in place across eight state agencies allowing different programs to access information in a role-based secure environment. 


Minnesota
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: A-

Minnesota has come a long way since the 20-day government shutdown in 2011. Gov. Mark Dayton’s Better Government for a Better Minnesota initiative focused on IT consolidation, and in 2011 all tech personnel and responsibilities were transferred to MN.IT. The emphasis on consolidation continued through the following years, and in 2013 a central project management office was established to enable consistency across all IT projects. To ensure accountability, the Minnesota Dashboard launched as an ongoing, public-facing report card as well as an internal framework. The Better Government theme continues as a plain language initiative seeks to remove jargon from websites and forms, and a 2014 legislative Unsession that included an online tool sought ideas for government reform. CIO Carolyn Parnell was honored as one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2013.


Mississippi
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B

Gov. Phil Bryant has focused on ensuring that residents have access to jobs and the state has rolled out numerous systems and applications for both job seekers and internal workforce management. The state is moving toward increased efficiency as set out in the Smart Budget Act, and an enterprise resource planning system will help formalize plans and evaluate performance. Mississippi continues to modernize legacy systems through the ERP project as well as in the areas of public safety and revenue.


Missouri
2014 grade: A
2012 grade: B+

A repeating theme from Gov. Jay Nixon’s last few State of the State addresses has been to make government smaller, smarter and more efficient. And the state’s consolidated IT organization is embracing that call while also delivering services to citizens. Numerous initiatives make Missouri a leader in the Digital States Survey as IT touches on every aspect of the state’s work — from unified communications to launching industry portals to rolling out mobile apps for foster care and agriculture. Cybersecurity has become the state’s No. 1 priority over the last two years, with Nixon’s fiscal 2014 budget including $4.5 million for security enhancements. It’s also a highly connected state: 98 percent of its residents have access to broadband.


Montana
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: C+

Montana’s IT aligns with Gov. Steve Bullock’s initiatives of better jobs and education and effective state government. From providing mobile access for citizens and employees to utilizing technology that increases security, the state is prioritizing projects that will deliver effective services. Enterprisewide IT has become a main point of focus, as the governor and CIO look at shared services, taking a new perspective on the state’s technology. To increase openness, a transparency portal was launched in February 2013, followed by the additions of a business site and data portal. And to increase security, a Security Risk Management Policy was put into place last year, describing NIST controls that must be implemented by all Montana agencies. Government Technology interviewed CIO Ron Baldwin earlier this year about securing employees' mobile devices in the workplace.


Nebraska
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B+

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman understands the importance of IT, which makes getting tech projects done possible — as is the fact that Brenda Decker at the Office of the CIO reports regularly to the Legislature so it remains engaged in tech and understands how to use tech to move the state forward. Nebraska also is highly focused on high-speed Internet — Network Nebraska is a collaborative statewide networking effort that connects more than 275 education entities to a high-speed backbone.


Nevada
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C

Nevada IT wants state government to be more responsive and efficient, and does so by offering more online services to constituents, using technology to streamline procurement processes, and going paperless to process employee time sheets. And over the past two years, the state has designed and implemented a centralized security solution that, since being deployed, has decreased the number of monthly reported incidents by 50 percent.


New Hampshire
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C

Gov. Maggie Hassan's 2014 state of the state speech included support for increasing broadband connectivity and strengthening STEM-related curriculum in schools. The state recently replaced its 15-year-old Medicaid Management Information System and launched a mobile app for underground storage tank inspections.


New Jersey
2014 grade: B-
2012 grade: C+

Moving from a C+ to a B- in this year's Digital States Survey likely was related to Gov. Chris Christie and the fact that each of his initiatives in some way relies on technology. After 2012's Superstorm Sandy, the state created a site to show transparency, as well as a multi-jurisdictional GIS database to assess Sandy’s impact. The state's Recidivism Data Mart helps ex-cons adjust to freedom; Operation Facial Scrub uses a database of digital driver's license information to find citizens who use false identities; and the state is rolling out its first new e-procurement system in 25 years, vendor enrollment for which began May 1, 2014. New Jersey is also one of four approved test beds for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), whose mission is to create a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications.


New Mexico
2014 grade: C+
2012 grade: B-

Gov. Susana Martinez's priorities include an emphasis on smart government and its five domains: data transparency portals, multi- and social-media constituent interaction, mobility and smart device services, interface branding and standardization, and data consolidation and business intelligence. In that vein, Martinez spoke in her 2014 State of the State address about the development of a one-stop business portal, and the high-level planning and strategizing for said portal are under way. New Mexico is also one of just four approved FirstNet testbeds.


New York
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B+

Technology is central to almost everything the state of New York does. In addition to conducting a massive IT transformation that converted the former Office for Technology — which had no authority over IT development — into a new Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) that manages all of the state’s IT functions, New York also is consolidating dozens of data centers into just one statewide data center. In addition, ITS is developing its next-generation GIS that will be a centralized, state-of-the-art suite of shared resources for use by all agencies and citizens. Also, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled in January a proposal for a $100 million genome research facility that would connect scientists with genome researchers to treat cancer and other diseases.


North Carolina
2014 grade: C+
2012 grade: B-

Breaking down silos and working as part of a team was a requirement in North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's directive — for IT organizations across the executive branch to create a culture of customer service. Doing business with the state, he said, should be "as easy as checking the scores or shopping on a smart phone.” And the collaboration was formalized in the state's "One IT" strategy — in which IT leaders from the cabinet-level agencies partner as a statewide enterprise versus operating as individual businesses. Since the 2012 Digital States Survey, the state launched its Innovation Center in October 2013 so it could test possible solutions prior to the procurement process, allowing for better definition of requirements and informing of purchasing decisions. Since the opening, employees and agency CIOs have tested approximately $4.5 million worth of technology at no cost to state government.


North Dakota
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: B

In North Dakota, any IT project that costs $500,000 or greater is handled in the same fashion: The approach to procurements, contracts and overall project management is consistent no matter the agency, which strengthens IT procurement and project management across the board. The state also is building an integrated state longitudinal data system to help better educate its students; the Department of Labor is looking to build an unemployment system that can be used by multiple states rather than each state building its own, unique system; and North Dakota's Health Information Exchange is leading the country in health-care provider participation.


Ohio
2014 grade: A-
2012 grade: A-

After surviving the worst economic period in its history, Ohio has emerged with a balanced budget — and a $1.5 billion surplus. Gov. John Kasich attributes these things to innovative thinking and improving how government does business. Making those things a reality is the state's IT optimization strategy, which lowers IT costs and redirects those savings into shared services. Going forward, the state has three focus areas: private cloud expansion, enterprise shared solutions and online government services.


Oklahoma
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C-

The state has focused on consolidating IT infrastructure since Gov. Mary Fallin signed a consolidation measure into law during the waning days of the 2011 legislative session. The law put 129 executive branch agencies under the purview of the state CIO. The state reports that IT infrastructure for 70 of those agencies now is consolidated. With consolidation about halfway complete, the state's Office of Management & Enterprise Services says it is strengthening its focus on customer service, collaboration and innovation.


Oregon
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B+

The slight dip in Oregon's grade from 2012 could be due in part to the state's troubles with its health information exchange, which became a focal point for citizens and the media. In other areas, however, the state has taken major steps in IT. In 2013, the Legislature defined the role of state CIO; in January 2014, former Oklahoma CIO Alex Pettit took the position and deployed an ICT oversight model, under which all IT investments exceeding $1 million are closely managed as a dynamic enterprise portfolio. And in 2013, Oregon and Montana signed an intergovernmental services contract that allows Oregon to lease space in the Montana data center for its backup needs.


Pennsylvania
2014 grade: A-
2012 grade: A-

Pennsylvania is pioneering a solution that could be the way of the future in government IT. This summer, the state announced a cloud deal that goes well beyond what most states attempt -- the seven-year, $681 million hybrid cloud-services agreement with Unisys marks a new way of doing business. It will unify the state’s data centers and allow agencies greater flexibility, and will be installed during the next two and a half years.


Rhode Island
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C

Among Rhode Island's IT priorities over the past few years was a consolidation effort involving both internal and outsourced IT staff and a new warehouse for state tax data. CIO Jack Landers also serves as co-chair of a state broadband group looking to expand connectivity options.


South Carolina
2014 grade: C+
2012 grade: C

Presumably in response to the 2012 Department of Revenue data breach, South Carolina is engaged in a multi-year restructuring effort aimed at shoring up its posture relative to cybersecurity. The goal is to move away from a decentralized infrastructure to a federated environment, making the state more resilient when it comes to reporting, governance, performance monitoring and disaster recovery.


South Dakota
2014 grade: B-
2012 grade: C+

Following several years of vacancies in technology positions, the state is now fully staffed and planning for impending retirements in IT with innovative recruitment, training and retention programs. The Bureau of Information Technology cites effective collaboration with state agencies as the reason its request for 20 FTEs was approved by the Legislature for fiscal 2015.


Tennessee
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: A-

Fresh on the heels of a first place finish in the Center for Digital Government's 2013 Best of the Web competition for its innovative state portal, Tennessee is getting attention for other forward-thinking programs too. Using reserve lottery funds, the Tennessee Promise program offers free community and technology college education to all state high school graduates. The state's multi-faceted IT Academy provides specialized curriculum and training for IT staff to help nurture the existing workforce, encourage adoption of industry best practices and position state technology projects for success.


Texas
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: B

Notable initiatives include a cooperative contracts program that helps reduce costs for agencies buying technology products and services. Neighboring Oklahoma is participating, naming Texas its "preferred" supplier. The state reports that it generated $103.7 million in revenue through 27 million Web transactions in 2013, up more than 8 percent from 2012. Texas also added a cybersecurity coordinator position in 2013, charged with advancing good practices in state agencies and developing cybersecurity skills in the state workforce.


Utah
2014 grade: A
2012 grade: A

Perennial high achiever Utah boasts Internet connectivity in 12 out of 13 of its households, the highest percentage in the United States. The state's portal has added 123 new services in the past two years, and conducted an impressive 63 million online transactions. Several new sites have been added to the mix, including a handful devoted to monitoring and improving the performance of schools and students.


Vermont
2014 grade: B-
2012 grade: C

Responding to leaders and commissioners in the state, Vermont aims to modernize its critical IT infrastructure, which no longer meets their needs and makes compliance with state and federal regulations challenging. Of particular focus are the Agency for Human Services, the Department of Taxes and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Efforts to update include a focus on flexible, scalable technology, and toward that end, the state reports that 80 percent of its applications now run in a private cloud.


Virginia
2014 grade: A-
2012 grade: B+

The first state to adopt the cyber framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Virginia and new Gov. Terry McAuliffe further demonstrated cybersecurity leadership by the creation of Cyber Virginia and the Cyber Security Commission. Made up of business, academia and government representatives, the commission and its five working groups will work to " … mitigate risks and safeguard the highest level of security for government infrastructure networks …" as well as promote education and awareness of best practices in cybersecurity. State agencies in Virginia now benefit from a shared citizen-facing identity verification system, the Commonwealth Authentication Service. The program represents a significant collaboration between state level technology leaders including CIO Sam Nixon and officials from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Health and Human Resources. A new open data portal was launched earlier this year to promote transparent, data-driven decision-making.


Washington
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: C-

Gov. Jay Inslee asks the state workforce to use proven private-sector tactics to propel state government forward in service of Washington residents. The form this takes in the office of CIO Michael Cockrill is a commitment to concepts of lean management and agile development. The Innovation Lab offers a place where staff can advance agile development methods among other state agencies, and come up with projects like the Washington Business One Stop Web portal. The state has granted the OCIO authority to approve procurements valued under $100,000, provided they are innovative and speed adoption of new technologies.

Washington offers two types of cloud service contracts for agencies to use: one for public information and one for more sensitive data. Participants can also choose from a variety of providers depending on their needs. The state has also assumed a leading role in developing standards for cloud contract language that other public-sector cloud consumers can leverage. Numerous transparency efforts share budgeting and other performance data online, with an eye toward improving efficiencies across agencies.


West Virginia
2014 grade: B+
2012 grade: A-

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin took a leadership role in a major ERP overhaul now under way to transform and standardize how the state conducts business, using automation to eliminate 100 legacy applications. Completion of this WV OASIS effort is expected in 2015.

A connectivity initiative made great progress in bringing lower cost high-speed Internet to West Virginians -- not an insignificant accomplishment given the state's demographics and geographic challenges. More than 675 miles of fiber were laid, and 1,200 routers were installed at 623 sites. Fiber connectivity is now available at every K-12 institution in the state. The microwave radio system got major upgrades as well, with 12 new towers added, five existing towers replaced and upgrades to 88 more.


Wisconsin
2014 grade: B
2012 grade: C+

The IT Executive Steering Committee established via Executive Order in April 2013 is made up of state CIO David Cagigal and the deputy secretaries of large cabinet agencies. Created to ensure that IT aligns with business needs, the group is credited with pumping new life into a major effort to overhaul the state's ERP system, a project that stalled in 2008. The ERP STAR Project will unite 120 separate payroll, procurement, financial and human resources systems into one system. The project is expected to save $99 million over 10 years, and is on pace for completion in 2016.
Wisconsin has also made cybersecurity a priority, developing a cybersecurity road map, made up of 100 specific action items intended to protect the state's assets as well as those of its citizens. Online efforts include a financial transparency website, OpenBook Wisconsin and a new self-funded state portal, which has saved $1 million in its first year. The Division of Enterprise Technology has also completed a major infrastructure consolidation effort, and is now able to offer infrastructure as a service to other state agencies.


Wyoming
2014 grade: C
2012 grade: C

Gov. Matt Mead has his eye on improving Internet access in Wyoming, laying out ambitious plans to build a statewide unified network consisting of 100 gigabit fiber-optic lines in three rings around the state. The state also points to a legislative task force focused on the security and privacy of digital information as evidence of its commitment to safeguarding data while facilitating effective information-sharing across government.

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.