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