The state of Illinois’ ongoing information technology (IT) transformation has a new strategy leader, in a former state chief information officer with a reputation for strengthening cybersecurity and saving millions through agreement renegotiation.
The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) introduced new Chief Strategy Officer Shanna Rahming, leader of the state’s new Office of Strategy and Planning, on May 22 at a quarterly Town Hall meeting for employees. Rahming, who stepped down in Nevada on March 3, is in her second week at DoIT.
The event was aimed at updating staff “on agency news and opportunities,” DoIT said on Twitter — but also forging a bond between Rahming, other executives and staff, as the gathering featured no fewer than four recent arrivals to DoIT and the state.
The new leaders greeted employees personally as the gathering got underway, Acting DoIT Secretary Kirk Lonbom told Government Technology. Postcards distributed to staff emphasized six guiding principles including embracing enterprise thinking, being accountable, and "remember we are one DoIT," DoIT Communications Director Jennifer Schultz said via email.
This has been something of a transition period at DoIT. Mike Wons, its most recent former CTO, and a lead designer of the ongoing tech modernization, announced in December that he would leave to join SAI Global, a global risk, compliance and cybersecurity company. And in September, CIO Hardik Bhatt left to join Amazon Web Services as leader/smart cities and mobility vertical/state and local governments, worldwide public sector.
Joining Rahming at DoIT is new Chief Technology Officer Jack King, who came to the agency in April from Impact Advisers LLC, an Illinois health-care IT consultancy, where he was a principal, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Also coming on board are DoIT Chief Administrative Officer Clark Kaericher, a former administrative manager at the Illinois Department of Transportation who joined the agency on May 1; and Marco Gorni, DoIT’s new enterprise project management office (EPMO) and governance executive, who started in March and is a former manager of the project management office at Arlington County, Va.
Like many states, Lonbom said, Illinois continues to unify its IT, but that effort isn’t confined to hardware and equipment.
“We don’t just unite our infrastructure, but we need to unite our workforce behind a single strategy. Where our strategy officer in the past had sort of served as a right-hand person reporting to the secretary, we expanded on that,” he said.
Central to that is the new office of strategy and planning, created this year, situated atop EPMO and other offices, and reporting up to the CIO. The ultimate goal, Lonbom said, is driving high-level strategy that can be closely connected to agency CIOs and their own verticals.
“In a nutshell, we have strategy that is developed at the enterprise level. We get our directives and our mandates from the governor’s office. But also, within all our agencies, our CIOs in the agencies are becoming close strategic partners with the agencies and developing those IT plans at the agency level, based on the IT priorities at the agencies,” Lonbom added.
Ultimately Rahming’s office will facilitate that “overall alignment,” the acting secretary said, highlighting what he said has been “a real gap in project management expertise.”
The agency’s three additional new executives will do their part to help continue the state’s transformation.
King, the new CTO, has “great experience” in overall project delivery and innovation and has led large tech projects and worked in multiple business verticals, the acting secretary said. He noted that, in contrast to some agencies with more “strategic” CTOs, King will likely be called on “to ensure we’re operationalizing on that strategy while ensuring we’re continuing to lean forward.”
He praised Gorni for his work in enterprise project management in Alexandria; and, most recently, at Arlington County, both in Virginia; and said Kaericher, an attorney who was legal counsel to the Illinois state Senate for five years, “really knows how to navigate the political environment.”