Delaware CIO Jim Sills doesn’t exactly say government should be run like a business, but he admits his private-sector banking and finance experience has come in handy. When Sills became CIO in 2009, he found state agencies focused mostly inward. “In the private sector,” he said, “we were always talking about the value of something at the enterprise level, and I was shocked that that kind of conversation does not generally take place in government.” Sills started the conversation with good results. For example, each agency typically bought its own PCs. But an enterprise contract with Dell — which standardized on six laptop and desktop configurations — realized a 33 percent savings on each machine, which helped get the enterprise ball rolling.
Sills also started moving applications into the cloud. All service and budget portfolio management is now in the cloud, as well as some 100 other applications. In addition, Sills said 80 percent of all physical servers are virtualized to the tune of $4 million in cost avoidance. “To get the other 20 percent,” he said, “we’re giving the service to the general fund agencies for free. ... We’re paying for it and now they’re beginning to use it as an enterprise solution.” In addition, Sills is giving away Salesforce licenses and development dollars to help agencies leverage that platform.
IT governance was next. Purchase orders above $10,000 must be reviewed by the IT department, which gives him insight into what each agency is buying and gives the opportunity to leverage existing solutions. “This was an additional control point to ensure we weren’t spending dollars we didn’t need to spend.” Along with the successful IT consolidation effort, Sills reached out to agencies on cybersecurity, and now 98 percent of all state employees have completed a computer-based cybersecurity training program.
Sills credits his staff with success in building state agency partnerships and collaboration to help agencies, and ultimately the people they serve. “We can’t sit back and wait for them to come to us,” he said. “We want to be a solution provider rather than an order taker.”
Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.