Utah CIO Mike Hussey Plans to Continue State's Tradition of Greatness

Utah's newest CIO says his office will focus on a few key areas: mobile app development, accessibility, data security and a 25 percent increase in efficiency.

by / October 21, 2015
Jaxson Photography
Jaxson Photography

Utah has a good thing going, says Mike Hussey, the state's new CIO -- and he doesn't intend to mess with it.

He's right about his state. Under the leadership of former state CIO Mark VanOrden, Utah remained among the most decorated of any government entity for its achievements in technology. Utah.gov received second place in the Center For Digital Government's Best of the Web Awards three years running and received 16 awards in 2014. The state Legislature received an online democracy award in 2014 for its data-rich portal. And Utah has scored consistently well on the Center's Digital States Survey, one of the few states to receive an A grade in 2014, following A's in 2012 and 2010. The state experiments with new tools to drive technology and economic development like the launch of the Commercial Broadband Map earlier this year, and the launch of mobile apps that extend the reach of the state's 1,100 services into the palms of the people.

"We feel like we lead out on a lot of areas, and I think we're just going to continue focusing on the things we've been focusing on in the past," Hussey said. "I don't see me coming in and making sweeping changes. It's hard to beat all the accolades we're currently receiving."

Business as usual will mean a few key focus areas for his office, Hussey said, and those are mobile app development, accessibility, data security, and a 25 percent increase in the state's efficiency.

More citizens are moving their online activity away from laptops and desktops toward the smartphone and tablet, Hussey said, so applications like the Division of Wildlife Resources' (DWR) hunting and fishing app will be the type of thing people can expect to see more of. The app allows users to file for licenses online, ensure they're hunting or fishing in the correct area, and receive updates from the agency.

"We want to make that information available to our residents no matter where they are," Hussey said. "We'll continue those types of developments to make sure most of the services ... are mobile friendly."

The state is also compelled by the Legislature to improve accessibility. A new law passed last year required the state's software developers to receive accessibility training and requires all websites to be compliant with standards set by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Being the CIO means taking on responsibility as a servant to the citizens, Hussey said, and part of that means keeping data safe.

"We are the repository for a lot of data in the state, and I think it's the CIO's job to make sure that that data is safe," he said. "We are the data broker for all these 23 cabinet-level positions, so driver's license, tax, public safety and others. We have a lot of sensitive data and so I think as a CIO, I want to ensure that we make sure that that data is safe. I want the citizens to feel that they can trust the state."

Two years ago, Gov. Gary Herbert challenged state agencies to improve their efficiency by 25 percent by 2017, a goal he claims has nearly been met. As steward of the state's technology, Hussey said he feels responsible for ensuring those efficiency targets are realized.

"Half of the battle is measuring the metrics and figuring out what we can do to streamline processes," Hussey said, adding that they look at everything from the development of a new website to the purchase of a desktop computer. They look at the process, he said, and find ways to trim the fat.

"I'm very excited to represent the state," Hussey said. "I feel like Utah's doing great things well across the board, but especially with technology. I'm excited to be a part of it, it's great to represent our great state and serve with the governor. And to get a glimpse of his vision and push it forward is truly going to be an exciting time for me."

Colin Wood former staff writer

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