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Washington CIO Bill Kehoe Balances Digital Government, Equity

Veteran public chief information officer Bill Kehoe wants to grow and streamline the citizen experience to match what they get in the private sector while also trying to get everyone connected.

Bill Kehoe
Washington State Chief Information Officer Bill Kehoe
(Government Technology/David Kidd)
Bill Kehoe is new to Washington state government, but he’s a public IT veteran. As the former CIO of Los Angeles County and King County, Wash., he has seen firsthand the way citizens’ relationship with government has changed over time.

At the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference this week, a common theme from CIOs across the country was how the pandemic really underscored the need for online government services. And while states were able to stand up new websites and chatbots and remote operations in record time, the idea that residents want an Amazon-like experience from government is not new.

Kehoe explained that while of course making services more immediately available to citizens — the same way they access Amazon, Netflix and Uber — is essential to moving public-sector work forward, the other side of the coin is the connectivity element. If citizens can’t get to an online portal and have all their government needs met from their own homes, they still need to be served.

He said this thinking — the idea that technology investments should be focused on outcomes for end users — is a shift he’s seeing from state CIOs across the board.

“What we’re seeing … is that technology isn’t just for technology’s sake,” Kehoe said. “All our investments in technology and our projects should be focused on the people we serve.”
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.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> 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.