In October, longtime Arkansas technology leader Claire Bailey announced her resignation, citing health problems. She’s since moved onto a position as director of federal, state and local solutions with mainframe company Compuware. With eight years as the Arkansas CTO and director of the state’s Department of Information Systems, and more than 23 years with the state as a whole on her resume, she shared that moving on was a difficult position, but one that she sees big opportunities in.
“There comes a time in everyone’s career where you’ve just realized you’re going to stay there forever or move on, so I made the decision that I was ready to move on prior to the election,” Bailey said, referring to the November 2014 gubernatorial election in which Republican Asa Hutchinson defeated Democrat Mike Ross.
Bailey said she put together presentations for both candidates and there was some interest in keeping her, but she wasn’t sure how serious it was. And either way, she decided she was ready to move to the private sector, she said. “Maybe this makes me a Pollyanna, but I think technology should be apolitical,” Bailey said. “It’s really about services for citizens.”
Despite any depoliticizing effect technology may have, Arkansas’ technology agenda will be determined by the governor-elect’s State of the State address that will be given next year. Short of knowing what’s on his mind, Bailey said, she sees lots of challenges and opportunities remaining for the state.
Developing educational tools and broadband access are key problems everywhere in the nation, including Arkansas, she said, as is the work needed to prepare for in the upcoming first responder network being developed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Arkansas will also likely continue modernizing its Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS), she said.
“There’s a longtime vision I have had that I hope continues – that we ease access across the nation for how people find government services, especially for those who are in need,” she said. “In Arkansas, we were working on a single sign-on and portal for eligibility determination, and hopefully that effort will continue.”
Bailey helped lead the state’s online portal to critical acclaim in 2011 when the Center for Digital Government awarded the state first place in its Best of the Web awards, and third place in the 2014 contest. As a member of a the Information Network of Arkansas board, Bailey helped form the state’s portal, and she cited their success and promotion of mobile access as one of her top achievements with the state.
Bailey also cited the work she and then-Deputy Director Herschel Cleveland (who is currently acting CTO) completed on negotiating a second data center for the state as an important achievement. “He managed an incredibly low purchase price for the state," she said, "and I think that helps maximize disaster recovery and continuity in operations and also slowly chip away at the implementation of a true enterprise architecture."
The future of Arkansas technology is mostly out of Bailey’s hands now, but she said she’s looking forward to helping ease the burden of dealing with government from the other side of the fence.
“When you’re working with government, it’s not the easiest of things to do, so I wanted to help ease that process and help bring more explanation to not only how government works, but also establish and build upon those relationships I’ve made in the past many years,” Bailey said. “I wanted to work in an environment that would focus on how to deliver the success of public service business processes.”
When evaluating her options for employment, Bailey said, she quickly saw a match when meeting with the leader of Compuware. “I realized that there was a such a drive to provide optimization of the assets that we have, so it was one of those things where you get alike personalities, a lot of energy, and then a dedication to making a difference, so I’m very fortunate,” she said, adding that there’s a lot of potential for all governments to maximize the use of their existing assets.
Bailey also encouraged CIOs to realize all the opportunities they have, whether they anticipate losing their position because of new leadership, or otherwise. “When you’ve been with the state for a long time or you’ve been in the private sector and you’re moving to that state role,” she said, “I think it’s important to have an interchangeable approach so we can change both worlds, and the most important part is to move America forward."
Editor's Note: This story was edited on Dec. 16, 2014 to fix a factual error regarding the 2014 Arkansas gubernatorial election.
Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.