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Iowa CIO Shares IT Strategy for State Agency Restructuring

Iowa CIO Matt Behrens shares the IT strategies his team is using to stay on track for an ambitious deadline to consolidate the technology systems of 37 state cabinets down to 16 in alignment with recent legislation.

Iowa CIO Matt Behrens.jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
The Iowa Office of the Chief Information Officer is working on a tight deadline to execute a massive plan to consolidate and restructure common technology systems and services for the state.

In April, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an agency reorganization plan in law, compressing Iowa’s 37 executive-level cabinet agencies down to 16. The reorganization will be officially enacted July 1, and Reynolds told a reporter for the Iowa Capital Dispatch that the goal is to have many of the mergers ready for public interactions by that time.

“For decades, Iowans have seen state government grow beyond its means. Today, the Iowa House joined me and the Iowa Senate to declare an end to bloated bureaucracy. We are making government smaller, more efficient and more effective. We are saving taxpayer dollars and putting Iowans' needs first,” Reynolds said in a statement after the alignment bill passed in the Iowa House.

The Legislative Services Agency summary of the bill details dozens of consolidations, mergers, transfers, renames and eliminations. The restructuring is an extensive IT project, but Iowa CIO Matt Behrens told Government Technology that his department is on target to update the state’s public-facing tech systems for the July deadline.

In an email, he noted three strategies the department has taken to stay on track:

  • “Communicating the definition of success and remaining committed to what falls in and outside of that scope.
  • “Building a governance and communication structure across the enterprise and within agencies to communicate progress, changes, issues, etc.
  • “Establishing and monitoring a common set of critical tasks across the enterprise to track progress, hold teams accountable and identify areas of concern.”

While the Office of the CIO is working on updating short-term features for the July 1 deadline, Behrens noted that the long-term plan is to make public-facing websites in the state universal.

“The most publicly visible portion of the alignment will be, in the short term, updates to agency websites including agency names, branding and navigation to newly aligned functions within agencies,” Behrens said. “In the longer term, all public-facing agency websites will be consolidated into a single design platform, updating the enterprise to a common look and feel.”

State consolidation efforts in Iowa started about two years ago when work began to combine the the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Human Services, a move that was finalized with legislation passed during the 2022 session. A combined website for the newly created Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has already launched, but according to alignment transition plan documents, the state also has plans in the pipeline to enhance website functionality for that department using a human-centered design approach.

Behrens noted that his department has an important role to play in making sure the entire state restructuring process goes smoothly.

“IT is essential to ensure there is no disruption to services or the ability for staff to do their work,” Behrens said.
Nikki Davidson is a data reporter for Government Technology. She’s covered government and technology news as a video, newspaper, magazine and digital journalist for media outlets across the country. She’s based in Monterey, Calif.