Newly appointed CIO Paul Baltzell outlines ambitious tech plans for Indiana, echoing incoming Gov. Mike Pence's intention to take the state from good to great.
Indiana changed technical leadership on Jan. 14, just as the Governor's office changed hands from outgoing two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels to new Gov. Mike Pence. Paul Baltzell took over as CIO, after serving as a deputy CIO for about three years.
Replacing outgoing CIO Brian Arrowood, Baltzell told Government Technology that he'll follow Pence's example, who aims to look for ways to “make good government great.” Priorities include continuing the state's tradition of avoiding red tape, and making Indiana the top technology state in the nation.
According to Baltzell, his job hasn't changed that drastically since becoming CIO, but he does have a broader scope of responsibilities. “I'm meeting with all the agency heads to understand their needs and their projects as well as getting my hands around the parts of day-to-day operations that I didn't know,” he said. Dealing with the financial side of the house, he explained, is something he didn't have as much exposure to in his previous role.
The state's biggest upcoming technology upgrade is an expansion of their PeopleSoft system to include contacts and digital signatures, a capability the state doesn't yet have, Baltzell said. The state also wants to expand its scope of services to more outside entities like colleges and universities. “Our services are charged back to the agencies,” he said. “For the past seven years, we've actually reduced rates every year and my goal is to continue reducing charges to the agencies," he explained. "Every time we expand to outside entities, we have a larger user base, and a larger user base typically means we can reduce costs even further.”
Increasing transparency both internally and externally is another goal, Baltzell said. The public benefits from seeing how their government works and how money is being spent, but so do government employees and officials. “I would like to make everything we do as efficient as humanly possible,” he said.
While many government CIOs talk about making big changes, some find themselves caught up in red tape that prevents their goals from being realized. That's not the case in Indiana, Baltzell said. “We've been lucky,” he said. “The previous eight years we've had Gov. Daniels ... and he was not a fan of bureaucracy. He was not going to let that stop the state of Indiana from moving forward," he added. Baltzell feels that incoming Gov. Pence is determined to continue that legacy.
Getting things done in government is done by making and maintaining strong relationships, Baltzell said. “There's something to be said for earning folks' trust and once you have their trust, they're going to listen to you,” he said. “I don't want Indiana to be No. 2, No. 4 -- it's not good enough. We need to be No. 1. That's my goal. To make Indiana by far the best technology state in the country.”
Indiana State Capitol photo from Shutterstock