Digital States Survey 2018: Raising the Bar

The results of this year's survey show that top states prioritize collaboration, good governance and strong citizen engagement in their use of technology to serve the public.

by , / October 2, 2018
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In the map above, click a state to learn its exact grade and why that grade was given. The contents of the map are also available below.


A States

Georgia
2018 Grade: A
2016 Grade: A-
CIO: Calvin Rhodes

Georgia has invested heavily in cybersecurity since the last Digital States Survey, placing the state firmly at the top of the class in 2018. The $100 million multi-agency cyber center in Augusta is on an expedited construction schedule that gets the project to completion within the last few months of Gov. Nathan Deal’s second term in office. Noteworthy for its broad coalition across government, academia and law enforcement, the center is one that other states newer to cybercollaboration seek to emulate. To back up its physical investments in cybersecurity, the state also has a $100 million cyberinsurance policy.

The Georgia Enterprise Technology Services (GETS) program represents an innovative take on managing technology at an enterprise level through a public-private shared services arrangement. With an annual budget in excess of $220 million, GETS minimizes risks to the state by partnering with vendors to manage IT equipment and storage needs, ensuring appropriate refresh cycles and leading expertise in managing the network and the data center. In 2017, a new procurement approach called Market Test and Rebid (MTR) was introduced, which broke the state’s master contract for IT infrastructure into five distinct parts, driving better rates and more innovative solutions. The effort recently brought new agreements for mainframe, computing and mail/courier services, and will yield a new server services contract after the first of the year.

Evidence of Georgia’s commitment to streamlining citizen services can be found in the Georgia Gateway program, which lets people use a single app to apply for assistance from 10 programs — up from a previous total of three. Governance boards were established to ensure the system runs as effectively as possible. In another example, an e-filing pilot is now underway with courts in 20 of the state’s 159 counties, fostering the streamlined exchange of information across multiple systems and between multiple agencies. 


Michigan
2018 Grade: A
2016 Grade: A
CIO: Dave DeVries

Combining the department of technology with that of management and budget makes the state of Michigan unique in how state IT is administered. The results of the merger and the discipline and execution it has brought to technology use are reflected in the state receiving another A grade from CDG. The newly created Office of Performance Transformation ensures that any automation of an agency business process must undergo lean certification before it is funded. This ensures every process is rigorously examined and redesigned to gain the maximum benefits with the right amounts of technology. And lean isn’t the only tool the state uses to improve performance. The Enterprise Project Management Office also supports agile development and, since 2017, over 75 percent of state IT projects have adopted the popular application development technique while the state’s procurement office has incorporated agile into its contract boilerplate. 

The number of accomplishments in Michigan are numerous, but several stand out. The state has built a toolset that provides a standardized, repeatable process for legacy application modernization. The tool provides an objective retirement and replacement pathway for legacy systems and reduces the risk of an unplanned replacement project. It has built a Master Person Index that has been adopted by 12 human services programs and is used to link citizen records from multiple programs. The index combines logic, rules and algorithms to integrate and speed up service delivery. The state has also created the Law Enforcement Data Hub Analytics platform that collects and cleanses data from multiple sources and creates master records of critical information that can be shared in dashboards and visualizations, giving state and local law enforcement information on crime trends and hot spots. The project has been recognized as a national best practice.


Missouri
2018 Grade: A
2016 Grade: A
CIO: Rich Kliethermes (acting)

Missouri has maintained its high-performance streak, once again earning an A grade in this year’s survey for its strong stance on cybersecurity, ability to streamline using technology, and interest in soliciting citizen feedback and putting it to use. Efficiencies have brought savings across the enterprise, from a public safety elevator inspection app that saves $249,000 annually, to energy savings in the data center netting $98,000, which is in line with the State Energy Conservation Program. Cyber received an additional $1 million in the fiscal year 2018 budget, bringing its total investment to $9 million. The state data center maintains an IT business continuity and disaster recovery plan, as does each individual department, and the Information Technology Services Division (ITSD) has a network operation center that can operate on mobile, meaning there are redundant communications in case of a major disruption. Missouri also holds an annual disaster recovery exercise, and in addition to its participation in FirstNet, the state has its own statewide interoperable communications network for public safety that includes 1,127 federal, state and local public safety agencies.

Elsewhere in the enterprise, Missouri has planned a major project to modernize and integrate its Health and Human Services benefits enrollment, as well as a Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) modernization by 2020. The Department of Revenue’s “Road to 100” program aims to have 100 percent of call center calls answered without having to make callbacks. The state saw 90 percent of tax calls answered in March 2018 versus 30 percent in March 2017. The addition of a natural language processing platform to the initiative is under discussion. To further enhance citizen engagement, the state is replacing more than 50 Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) legacy systems with “DMV Connect,” which will streamline business functions and also offer citizens the ability to pay license fees online. ITSD also plans a website redesign for fall 2018 that aims to make mo.gov more like Google.


Ohio
2018 Grade: A
2016 Grade: A
CIO: Spencer Wood (interim)

The state of Ohio held its ground in this year’s 50-state assessment, and for good reason. Leadership — both within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the statehouse — has pushed ahead with priorities that further the functions of IT. Gov. John Kasich has been an outspoken advocate for technology, promoting the testing and innovation of autonomous vehicles; using data analytics and challenge programs to combat the opioid crisis; and flipping the IT spending model to focus more on public-facing projects. The consolidation of state IT resources has allowed for not only increased spending on public-facing projects, but it has also netted efficiencies and substantial savings. Under the efforts, 90 percent of infrastructure has been moved to the cloud, part of a cloud-first strategy dating back to 2012, and adoption of shared services with outside partners has grown in areas like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), email and mainframe services. Along with addressing the ongoing opioid crisis, data analytics and technology are also being used to take a closer look at infant mortality, transportation and the criminal justice system. These efforts were bolstered by the creation of a pre-qualified pool of firms that agencies could draw from to support these efforts. Additionally, the state has promoted a video-first policy to cut down on travel expenses and it has leveraged state-owned towers for broadband deployments. Many of these efforts were led by CIO Stu Davis, who stepped aside in late August after nearly eight years in the role.


Utah
2018 grade: A
2016 grade: A
CIO: Mike Hussey

A year-over-year focus on digital transformation empowered by focused leadership and prioritization of technology-related initiatives, built on 12 years of consolidated executive branch IT, enabled the state to retain its A ranking from 2016. Gov. Gary Herbert’s enterprise-level initiatives including his SUCCESS Framework, an efficiency approach founded on the idea that all state systems and programs can and must improve; and the Life Elevated 2020 agenda, which leans on statewide growth through collaboration, have ensured it.

The state’s longtime high value on education carried over to 2018, epitomized by numerous higher and lower tech education pathways including SheTech Explorer and the Utah Futures OnRamp. The former, a collaboration between the Women Tech Council and the Utah Stem Action Center, introduced more than 2,000 high school students to advanced tech. The latter offers an online resource to students for education and career planning. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports Utah leads the nation in tech job growth at 7.7 percent.

Reasoning that good data enables good decisions, Utah has stood up online resources including a Homelessness Data Dashboard, confronting the problem with longitudinal information capture and analysis; and Intergenerational Poverty (IGP) County Data, which uses data to confront poverty. DOT has spearheaded connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology including an app that adjusts traffic signals to help buses stay on schedule; and is exploring roadside communication infrastructure for weather sensing and traffic data. In 2017, a Pew study ranked Utah the No. 2 state for evidence-based policymaking.

Among many digital projects underway, a statewide broadband map integrated with Locate.Utah.gov connects businesses to needed broadband services. The state’s single sign-on solution UtahID is now an entry point to more than 900 systems and services; and a collaboration with cloud procurement company JAGGAER (formerly SciQuest) has streamlined online procurement.


A- States

California
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: B+
CIO: Amy Tong

California climbed from a B+ in 2016 to an A- in this year’s Digital States Survey for its continued efforts to manage a vast population and massive economy with the help of strong tech initiatives. The California Department of Technology (CDT) has made particular strides in its commitment to agile methodologies for project development and procurement, and pushing this out to state agencies ensures citizens can receive services efficiently. As part of this commitment to service delivery, programs like Get CalFresh harness user-centered design to create easy-to-use apps for citizens. In the first year that Get CalFresh was used to streamline benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, there was a 43 percent increase in applications in counties using the program versus those who were not. The program is now being rolled out statewide. To further meet users where they are, CDT has made an effort to make as many services mobile as possible. This includes a Franchise Tax Board app, so users can track their state tax return status, and a mobile app for finding voting information, among dozens more.

To protect against the ever-present threat of a cyberattack, in 2017 the state established the California Cybersecurity Integration Center, and the first-ever statewide Security Operations Center, which blocks more than 200 million breach attempts each day. In anticipation of the legalization of marijuana in the state in 2018, a partnership between the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture, and Department of Public Health launched an online cannabis portal offering a one-stop shop for information on licensing, regulation and consumers. More than 5,000 cannabis purveyors now hold state licenses, and the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace system follows and records all cannabis transactions to monitor safety and ensure market regulation.


Indiana
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: A-
CIO: Dewand Neely

Indiana holds steady in the Digital States survey, maintaining the same A- grade that the state received in 2016. But that doesn’t mean that the state has been static with its tech and innovation work. Two years into his first term, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb has taken an active interest in that area of government, with actions that range from proposing a fund to fuel innovative entrepreneurship to creating chief data officer and chief privacy officer positions within state government, both of which are gubernatorially appointed. While those additions are significant, a major focus of tech work in Indiana of late has been consolidation in the name of efficiency. 

Since 2016, Indiana has worked to develop new tech solutions that save time, money and energy. These solutions are wide-spanning and varied, ranging from virtualizing 73 percent of its servers — saving money on both energy and cooling costs — to consolidating IT infrastructure into a unified environment supported and managed by a single tech office. 

The aforementioned addition of a chief data officer, as well as a new Open Data Act signed into law to formally codify Indiana’s Management Performance Hub (MPH) as a standalone state agency, speak to the state’s ongoing commitment to data and analytics work. A primary focus of the MPH has been the ongoing opioid crisis, which is afflicting Indiana as it is nearly every state in the country. The MPH is helping by compiling data from disparate state agencies to create real-time substance trend information for those on the front lines. That effort has led to the creation of related dashboards, which have helped the state make the case to increase capacity in residential treatment facilities.


Minnesota
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: B+
CIO: Johanna Clyborne

Behind Gov. Mark Dayton’s vision is an IT direction set by CIO Johanna Clyborne, who leads Minnesota IT Services (MNIT), providing IT services to more than 70 agencies, boards and commissions, and 2,000 people over 90 physical locations. The governor’s vision is set forth in a master plan that sets a long-term IT strategy of strengthening and modernizing government interactions with Minnesotans. One of the goals is to provide better and more affordable health care that is available to every Minnesotan via an online marketplace, MNsure

Improving access to the workforce system is another key goal of the administration and the Career and Education Explorer was launched in June 2017 to assist students, job hunters, and counselors in finding careers and related education, all in one Web tool. This tool also helps contribute to the realization of the Minnesota Combined State Plan, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The state’s Network for Enterprise Telecommunications is a public-private partnership that delivers an integrated statewide network for the executive branch, the courts, higher education and cities and counties throughout. It is managed by MNIT and connects 1,700 locations in more than 300 cities, featuring a built-in security design, quality of service for efficient traffic and dedicated high-speed cloud connectivity. MNIT has also pursued smart and sustainable IT infrastructure, reducing its power consumption by reducing the number of data centers from 29 to 16. MNIT has also supported agency virtualization projects by hosting agency services during their transition periods.


New York
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: B
CIO: Bob Samson

New York has made great strides in its New NY Broadband Program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo established in 2015 to spread high-speed Internet statewide. The final round of state funding in 2018 is designed for last-mile backing of Internet access for all New Yorkers. The $209.7 million award will give broadband to 122,285 homes, businesses and community organizations. 

The state also offers residents more than 335 million records from state, local and federal agencies via the OpenNY website. State agencies such as the Department of Health and the Energy Research and Development Authority have started publishing tools and visualizations based on their data in OpenNY. 

Recognizing the importance of cybersecurity, New York has created cyberunits within the State Police and Division of Homeland Security. And in order to protect state elections, the governor created the Election Support Center to strengthen election infrastructure, train county boards of election members in cybersecurity, and distribute cyberthreat information quickly to local stakeholders. The state also created an Elections Cybersecurity Support Toolkit containing threat mitigation tools. New York regularly assesses cyber-risks to identify vulnerabilities in counties. The state hosts free disaster recovery services to protect voter information. Cuomo also requires counties to report to the State Police and the State Board of Elections about data breaches that could expose voter or election information.  

Last year, Cuomo launched the New York Tech Workforce Task Force to modernize K-12 and college curricula. Composed of industry, academic and state government experts, the Task Force also makes recommendations on workforce training and other strategies to keep up with an IT-based economy. The governor also invested in a Tech Training Fund of $5.3 million to better prepare state residents for modern jobs.


North Dakota
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: A-
CIO: Shawn Riley

As a former tech executive, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum understands the influence of technology, even on his largely agricultural state. Using unmanned aerial systems to gather information on crops has become vital to precision agriculture, for instance. Automatically collected data of weather, traffic and wildlife activity gives more options when making decisions.  

Burgum launched the Main Street Initiative to strengthen communities, build a 21st-century workforce and create smart and efficient infrastructure. The state has developed a dashboard for the initiative to provide visual data sets for residents and local officials to help plan community improvement. The dashboard provides detailed information on cities and counties across the state. It shows community profile data; state, county and city financial information; and education highlights. The state will give city leaders the option to edit and update specific information that may help their economic development efforts and provide transparency to citizens. Dashboard information will also be downloadable in Microsoft Excel or printed as a PDF. The dashboard will continue to be enhanced based on user feedback.  

In 2017, North Dakota CIO Shawn Riley began a major structural overhaul of IT in the state, merging more than 600 IT workers from numerous state agencies in order to better align teams by common functions. The move is designed to streamline operations and enable shared services via collaboration.


Virginia
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: A
CIO: Nelson Moe 

Virginia earned an A- grade in this year’s survey, marking its continued dedication to improved IT and best practices. Ralph Northam took over as governor in 2018, and he continued his predecessor’s focus on promoting technology and cybersecurity. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) received approval and funding for 40 new positions within the agency. Most are intended to speed up the transition to the new multi-supplier environment for infrastructure services, while some are for Web scanning and an information security shared services center. Northam appointed Carlos Rivero as the state’s first ever chief data officer in July 2018.  

Since 2016, Virginia has been in the process of transitioning from a $2 billion, 13-year contract with a single provider for IT infrastructure services to a multi-supplier model. The process has not been easy, with limited support from the incumbent provider for contract-required transition services. However, the state is still moving forward, establishing a Customer Advisory Council to solicit statewide input from the 61 agencies served. Virginia expects $300 million in IT spend to be impacted by the new multi-supplier environment. 

As far as systems already in place, the state’s supply chain management (SCM) saw notable success in fiscal 2017. SCM had 20 major procurements, 300 contracts and an overall managed cost avoidance/reduction of more than $40 million, the state reports. In its inaugural survey, the Governing Institute ranked Virginia’s SCM No. 1 for state procurement. The state also launched a new system in December 2016, Enterprise Cloud Oversight Services (ECOS), which provides oversight and management of cloud-based services, particularly software as a service. Since launch, ECOS has received 139 customer requests, nearly 60 of which are now in the production oversight phase.


Washington
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: A-
CIO: Vicki Smith (interim)

Key focus areas for the state of Washington are cybersecurity, transparency and infrastructure modernization. The Office of Privacy and Data Protection, formed in 2016, coordinates state privacy programs and advises the governor and legislature in areas like data collection. The Office of Cybersecurity launched a new website in 2017 and serves as a statewide resource for cybersecurity education and awareness.

The state intends to migrate some shared services like email, collaboration and video conferencing out of the state’s central data center and onto the Office 365 cloud platform. A shared cloud environment allows for single sign-on and multi-factor authentication. By August 2019, the state’s three remaining server farms will have moved into a private cloud setting, shrinking the size of the state energy footprint. Washington is also reducing its carbon footprint with efforts like increasing zero emission vehicle fleets and incorporating renewable energy into new buildings like the Helen Sommers Building, which houses the Department of Enterprise Services.  

The state is involved with a wide-reaching effort to modernize and improve Washington’s aging administrative and business processes through a program known as One Washington. The project is also developing an inventory system to catalog all state-owned and leased facilities. Other technology modernization efforts can be found in the departments of transportation and motor vehicles, with the introduction of the new Driver and Vehicle System (DRIVES), which is part of a $60 million multi-year business and technology modernization project. The record management piece of this project alone will replace nearly 100 legacy applications. 


Wisconsin
2018 Grade: A-
2016 Grade: A-
CIO: David Cagigal

Over the past two years in Wisconsin, 50 additional online applications and services were launched, demonstrating significant progress on Wisconsin’s journey to digital government. The recently upgraded broadband savings agreement serves all 72 counties across the state, providing broadband, a wide area network and video applications to tribal nations, municipalities and technical colleges. All agencies are consolidating data by locating services in the Department of Enterprise Technology’s managed data center. The cloud service will allow the state to review and optimize its provisioning process in a secure, centralized environment.

Plans to recruit and train Wisconsin’s cyberworkforce are being strengthened by partnerships with private industry, while an IT Security Policy Handbook was published to establish comprehensive principles, policies, standards and procedures for IT security governance. Wisconsin's IT department also became more well-rounded with the help of the Business Intelligence Collaboration Center. Formed by agency IT directors, data-driven solutions will promote and advance new ideas to engage data in civic life.

The National Governors Association will provide Wisconsin with technical assistance in modernizing its cybersecurity plans and infrastructure, and a new Policy Academy initiative offers an upgraded defense system against globalized and advanced cyberattacks. The Cyber Strategic and Planning Working Group develops strategic planning direction for resources necessary to protecting critical infrastructure. Representatives of the group are from state agencies, the National Guard, cybersecurity leaders and a handful of private companies.

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Adam Stone Contributing Writer

A seasoned journalist with 20+ years' experience, Adam Stone covers education, technology, government and the military, along with diverse other topics. His work has appeared in dozens of general and niche publications nationwide. 

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