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Louisiana CIO to Vendors: Call Us First or Take Us With You

Dickie Howze is the second-longest serving state CIO on the job today. Here, he talks with GT about how private-sector partners can successfully engage with Louisiana given its consolidated IT structure.

Louisiana CIO Dickie Howze.
Government Technology/David Kidd
Of all current state CIOs, only Connecticut’s Mark Raymond has more tenure in his current role than Louisiana CIO Dickie Howze, named to the post in April 2013. During that time, Howze led a massive consolidation effort, converting the state from its previous federated model.

Another major endeavor of the past eight years, Howze told GT at the recent NASCIO conference in Minneapolis, was addressing the state’s backlog of technical debt. The consolidated Office of Technology Services has prioritized this work during the two terms of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“We’ve spent the entire eight years of this [the Edwards] administration retiring legacy technologies and putting them into a posture of being on modern supportable technologies that won’t ever go out of date ever again,” Howze said.

Last weekend, Louisiana voters chose Edwards’ successor, Attorney General Jeff Landry. Having retained his post through previous gubernatorial transitions, Howze and his organization are prepared to weather this transition too.

“Now that we’ve been there and done that, we’re in a great position to support the transition. The day-to-day operations of the organization will be easily handled, and we’ll be able to easily pivot with the direction that the new governor wants to take us in with respect to his priorities,” he said.

Howze’s longevity means he’s overseen many relationships with technology partners in private industry. In Louisiana, the Office of Technology Services is where the buck stops with regard to procurement. As such, Howze offered some advice to would-be partners about working with the state.

Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.