Indiana CIO Dewand Neely’s predecessor Paul Baltzell cast a long shadow. In fact, we recognized Baltzell along with former Gov. Mike Pence and Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Atkins for their leading analytics efforts with a Doers, Dreamers and Drivers award in 2015. But in the year and a half since Neely has held the top tech spot, he’s more than proven himself as a capable technologist with a firm grasp on the fine details and a simultaneous appreciation for the long view.
Since the game-changing analytics work the state embarked upon in reducing infant mortality, Neely has helped direct equally influential efforts in applying data from multiple agencies toward other problems that aren’t unique to Indiana: recidivism and opioid addiction.
Pivoting away from what he describes as more “grandiose” analytics efforts that marked the state’s early successes, Neely’s focus now is on incorporating data-driven thinking into everyday operations across the state. Included in that is performance measurement, assigning scorecards and visualization tools like dashboards to help decision-makers more easily identify areas needing attention.
At the top of Neely’s list of risks is cybersecurity. The state’s multijurisdictional Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IN-ISAC), formed in 2015, facilitates information and strategy sharing between state agencies, law enforcement, academia and the private sector. Praising the efforts to date, Neely also sees a responsibility to help local governments with cybersecurity too.
“These local governments operate on shoestring budgets and their IT staff is usually part-time between that job and another job,” he said. “In the end, that still affects the citizens of our state, whether something happens to them at home, in interaction with the local government or the state government. We also have a responsibility to protect that citizen.”
Also on his short list of priorities is continuing to position central IT as a service delivery organization that adds value beyond what is typically expected, like lending project management expertise at the agency level, for example. A centralized project reporting tool now supports this effort too, providing a complete view of all IT projects underway.
Running through all Neely’s efforts is a key responsibility to ensure technology is effectively used to keep costs in check. A current review of data retention policies and data storage options, including the cloud, demonstrates that he’s on the right track.