Washington, D.C., CTO Discusses Google Apps, City Priorities

Rob Mancini talks about the future of the Apps for Democracy contest.

by / September 29, 2011
Rob Mancini, CTO, Washington, D.C. David Kidd

Rob Mancini became Washington, D.C.’s CTO in July after serving as acting CTO since January. An early AOL employee who later worked at several private software firms, he joined D.C.’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) in 2003. During his OCTO career, he worked with a string of high-profile city CTOs including Suzanne Peck, Vivek Kundra and Bryan Sivak.

What is your top priority for OCTO?

We’re a young agency. We were growing up when Suzanne left. Vivek came in and had some really good ideas, but we didn’t have enough maturity in enterprise architecture standards and processes to take over IT for the city. I’ve inherited an agency full of talented IT professionals. If I can put a little discipline around that, we can skyrocket to the top of the IT world.

How will you do that?  

When you want to change the culture and optimize business processes, you have to rely on centers of excellence — and we have a few of those. We need to make sure those centers are playing nicely, and then lift other agency programs up to that level. The agency needs a bit of a redesign because we’re not positioned well for a leveraged service model.

What’s the status of the city’s Google Apps deployment?  

We use Google Docs extensively across the city. That’s been a game-changer. We don’t use a lot of the Gmail piece. When [Microsoft] Exchange is well run and well liked by users, it’s hard to displace it. Gmail may be a cheaper solution, but it has to pass the “as-good-as or better” test.

Will the city run another Apps for Democracy contest?

We’ll move beyond the apps contest. I’d like to see us partner with business incubators. If we can help startups get off the ground, we could end up with public-private partnerships that pay off well beyond a few apps here and there. We’re working on that now.


Steve Towns

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic. 

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