A passion to help people is what drove former Montana chief information officer Ron Baldwin to help his state push to the forefront in enterprise technology. For the first five years of his almost 10 years with the state, he served as CIO for the Department of Public Health and Human Services, which gave him an appreciation for what government could do for people in need.
“It was apparent within this large department that many people who came in had a constellation of needs that transcended a particular program.” For example, he said, some would come in for health-care coverage, but they also needed assistance with food, shelter and unemployment. “My dream was to be able to solve all these problems with citizen-facing technology,” he said.
In the time that he served as the head of the Montana State Information Technology Services Division, he and his team consolidated enterprise-level infrastructure, saving more than $1.6 million annually.
“Agencies won’t own their own equipment, but they will be using and sharing the most advanced platforms that we have, which will have security, full disaster recovery capabilities, and a sharing model that allows for a true private cloud approach,” he said.
And while he was consolidating and securing computing power in Montana, he was still acting to empower citizens. “We were able to create enterprise-level services for citizens that crossed boundaries, broke through silos, and delivered help irrespective of an agency or its programs or systems.”
Examples include the one-stop business navigator portal, as well as Montana’s transparency and open data websites, all projects in which Baldwin played a guiding role. He acknowledged that security concerns grew during his tenure in the CIO’s office, and those were met head on. The state now uses multi-factor authentication, coupled with advanced tools to prevent data loss and secure employee devices in light of the state’s bring-your-own-device policy.
As was typical of Baldwin’s approach, the strategy extended to all corners of the state workforce. “Whether an employee is fire-fighting or providing social services, we were able to secure our mobile workforce,” he said.
In January, Baldwin announced his departure for a position as a consultant with Deloitte, leaving a strong technology foundation in place for his eventual successor as Montana CIO.
Elizabeth Zima is a former staff writer for Government Technology. She has written in depth on topics including health care, clinical science, physician relations and hospital communications.