Technology may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about corrections, but Joe Panora is working to change that mentality. As director of the Enterprise Information Services Division for California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), he views technology as a tool for improving business operations. Public safety is at the heart of corrections, he says, but its business covers nearly all functions of government, including people management, budget, public access, health care and education.

Panora uses technology to improve California’s largest department from all angles, whether that’s finding cost avoidance through green IT or streamlining the visitor appointment scheduling process.

Recent wins include launching a state-of-the-art financial management system that automates back-office processes and virtualizing the CDCR’s computer equipment in the state’s tier-three data center, a move that prevented the department from spending millions of dollars to upgrade its own data center facility. Currently Panora is replacing multiple 30-year-old legacy systems with a single integrated Strategic Offender Management System. “This will give us the true enterprise data offender management standpoint from when an offender comes in to when they’re released,” he said.

While working to elevate and increase the efficiency of the CDCR’s technology operations, Panora leans on decades of public-sector experience. He joined California government in 1980, launching a career that has spanned five departments. “I think anytime that you have exposure to different organizations and they have a different type of business that they’re delivering to California, you’re able to take those best practices forward,” Panora said.

And implementing those best practices in California’s corrections system ultimately benefits everyone in the state.

Photo by Jessica Mulholland

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Elaine Pittman  |  Associate Editor

Elaine Pittman is the associate editor for Government Technology, Public CIO and Emergency Management. Before coming to Government Technology, she worked for The Coloradoan daily newspaper in Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached via email and @elainerpittman on Twitter.