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Maryland IT Secretary Guides State Toward Efficiency, Interoperability

Maryland Secretary of Information Technology Michael Leahy, who was recently elevated from interim to permanent status, reflects on his state's progress in reducing legacy systems and improving the user experience.

by / June 6, 2018

On April 10, the state of Maryland removed the “interim” classification from the job title of Secretary of Information Technology Michael Leahy, indicating the executive had reached permanent status after just over a year on the job.

Leahy became senior advisor to Gov. Larry Hogan on “practical governance and policy matters,” and director of the state’s real property strategies in June 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. He became the interim secretary of IT in March 2017 after then-Secretary David Garcia stepped down to spend more time with his family.

But his career, he told Government Technology via email, has encompassed a variety of private-sector experience that includes public service at federal and local levels ranging from attorney for the Federal Trade Commission; director of the Maryland Medical Biotechnical Institute; and city attorney of Annapolis, Md.

He described himself as “the beneficiary of careers in diverse fields,” and offered a road map to his avenue of achievement.

“Specifically, success is accomplished by finding ways to listen to and understand the people one is working with, establishing common underlying hypotheses and establishing authorities and responsibilities regimes,” Leahy said. He added that “formulating mutual strategic and tactical goals and having a willingness to incorporate different opinions into iterative processes” — as well as admitting mistakes — help to meet challenges.

Efficiency and interoperability are key state goals, he said, indicating the state, which expected to have consolidated 25 agencies and 10,000 employees into the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) by the end of 2016, according to the 2016 Digital States Survey, has expanded that support. DoIT now enables 31 agencies and 11,000 staffers with “only 248 IT support staff.” This, he noted, represents “a 500 percent increase in resource efficiency” overall.

The organization’s most significant achievements “hopefully remain obtrusive” by making process and operations “appear seamless and ‘just work,’” Leahy said, including guarding state IT assets and data, standardizing the governance and management of data assets to offer systemic interoperability opportunities and enhanced business intelligence.

DoIT, Leahy said, has put “numerous” measures in place based on the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practice model during the past 18 months, with the goal of improving service, and has begun regular key performance indicator reviews.

The results, Leahy said, show so-called "first call resolution" of issues has climbed from 45 percent to 60 percent, with service tickets correctly assigned 98 percent of the time. Those tickets are, on average, resolved within two business days.

Since Leahy joined DoIT, the agency has conducted several pilots, including an exploration of satellite-based sensing technology capable of detecting shifts over time in roads, bridges, harbor areas and large buildings of as little as 1 millimeter.

The endeavor wrapped in May, and the state — which hoped the technology would have broad applicability in real-time safety inspections, disaster analysis, permitting, land use compliance and in natural resources — is now in the process of evaluating the results.

But two state projects, he said, stand out. The Maryland Total Human-services Integrated Network (MDTHINK) is a “first-in-the-nation cross-agency collaboration model,” Leahy said, by connecting the departments of labor, licensing and regulation; human services, health and juvenile services; and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The secretary said it had been "gratifying" to participate in its executive steering committee.

Similarly, Leahy called the Maryland OneStop Portal "especially near and dear to my heart.” The DoIT initiative enabled only with participation and cooperation from all state agencies that issue licenses and permits. He called the portal a “landing page” for license and permit seekers, offering links to applications and information about the process.

“The portal has been developed using nonproprietary, scalable, modern technology so that Maryland is not dependent upon a single contractor for ongoing development and growth," Leahy said, pointing out that its back-end forms and workflow engine should save the state millions of dollars by retiring legacy equipment and consolidating processing.

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Theo Douglas Staff Writer

Theo Douglas is a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.

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