California Creates Portal for State's 10,000 IT Workers

Annual IT Academy Managers' class seeks to develop, hone skills for future CIOs.

by / May 19, 2010
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Like most employees, California government employees would prefer working on self-created projects. Now the state's 10,000-plus IT workers have a platform to share, collaborate on and refine those projects.

Developed specifically for California IT workers, Calinfo was launched in mid-May. It aims to allow users to share useful products, receive useful content and above all, information.

"It's not only a repository, they can also continue to work on it," California CIO Teri Takai told Government Technology. "It becomes almost an internal Wikipedia concept ... you can improve and refine ideas, so it's out there to share."

What to expect at the website:

  • document library -- Office of the State Chief Information Officer (OCIO) requirements and mandates, code sharing, contract model language;
  • wiki -- Information Security Office bulletins and associated patches;
  • blog -- OCIO and Office of Technology Services postings;
  • forum -- threads on the latest implementations, current problems seeking solutions; and
  • calendar -- lectures and major conferences/training events for the statewide IT community, posted by the OCIO.

"The site contains a wiki, forums, areas for document sharing and blogging, and a calendar of events," Jack Gibbons, OCIO Program Management and Policy Office principal, wrote in a blog post. "Calinfo represents a framework for a future, content-rich site that many state IT communities will find useful."

The website was developed by a group of 25 state IT managers as part of the yearlong IT Managers Academy -- a competitive program hosted by the state Office of Technology Services for state IT managers. The program hones collaboration, leadership and negotiation skills, as well as trains them for future executive roles. Participants are nominated by their own department, then screened and potentially chosen for the program by an IT management group, Takai said. The cost per person is $3,000, which is covered by the nominating agency, said OCIO spokesman Bill Maile.

"It's really tough in today's economic climate to provide all the training for employees that we'd like," Takai said. "By sharing best practices ... we will be able to learn from each other."

Each year the new group of IT managers takes on a project. Last year it was "California IT: A Commitment to Green." This year the class decided the portal's collaborative nature fit well with overall goals, Gibbons said.

Eyeing a lack of means for IT workers to share information because of siloed systems, OCIO program management and policy office principal Chi Emodi said the class wanted to find a solution.

"This one had a buzz about it," Gibbons said, noting that as the baby boomer generation heads toward the exit, those replacing it are already using peer-to-peer networks.

"The current model of individual organizations duplicating work done in other organizations is not sustainable," he wrote in a blog post.

The portal requires that users be current California IT workers, with a "," "," or other valid and recognized state agency e-mail address. There is a prompt to create a personal profile, which includes selecting one's top three IT skill sets, enabling one to market oneself for future employment with the state, as well as identifying oneself as an IT professional interested in a specific IT subject area.

Nearly 400 state IT workers registered the first two days after its launch, and the hope is to capture all 10,000-plus workers. "It's not something that management is making them do," Takai said, "but rather it's providing them a tool to do the things they like to do best."


Karen Wilkinson

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.

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