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NASCIO Day 1: States Showcase Partnerships for Success

The midyear gathering of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers kicked off today with state technology leaders discussing their crucial relationships with the private sector.

by / May 6, 2019
NASCIO President and Delaware CIO James Collins Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — 2019 marks the 50th year of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, a banner occasion the organization marks this week at its Midyear conference outside Washington, D.C. While talk of collaboration is always on the minds of CIOs when they gather to discuss best practices and common challenges, this year’s event puts the importance of partnerships front and center.

NASCIO President and Delaware CIO James Collins kicked off the day by welcoming the more than 600 public- and private-sector attendees, who came from 45 states, two territories and Washington, D.C.

Following was a keynote address that put partnerships front and center. In a speech titled “Why Collaboration Changes Everything,” CEO of Deeper Media and former Yahoo executive Tim Sanders explained why staying in vertical silos rather than expanding networks horizontally hinders innovation. He stressed the importance of fostering talent and leadership, which will promote good change management. Notably, Sanders believes that in a few years, “IT” will stand for “innovation technology,” and that that’s where public-sector tech is headed.

Those themes continued in afternoon breakout sessions called “Partner Perspectives,” where state tech leaders and vendors showcased ways in which they have successfully worked together to drive progress in IT.

Colorado CTO David McCurdy recalled a time early in his career when he referred to someone as a vendor, but they didn’t want to be called that — they preferred the term “partner.” McCurdy explained the value his state has gotten from its 10-year partnership with Salesforce, a relationship that this year will realize a massive overhaul of the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS). By working with Salesforce’s software-as-a-service platform, CBMS will go from having 5.4 million lines of code to just 670,044, a 78 percent reduction that will reduce maintenance costs and generate other efficiencies.

A session featuring Wisconsin CIO David Cagigal and Compuware’s Claire Bailey, former Arkansas CIO, covered the importance of the collaboration between the two entities to keep Wisconsin’s mainframe running in an era when most states seem to be moving at least in some part to the cloud.

“We don’t go an inch down the road without a vendor partner,” Cagigal said, pointing to mainframe's benefits over cloud when it comes to price, performance and security.

While such loyalty to what some would call legacy tech might seem a hindrance to attracting a new workforce that can support and maintain mainframe, Cagigal said that in fact a summer internship program has over the last several years attracted recent college grads to Wisconsin’s IT agency. “Millennials are looking for an impact,” he said, and now those longtime employees who might have been putting off retirement can leave the state knowing systems are in good hands.

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Lauren Harrison Managing Editor

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 10 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.

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