Republican Gov. Chris Sununu re-nominated former Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s appointment from 2015, asking Goulet to focus on using digital government tech to improve services for citizens and businesses.
New Hampshire’s Chief Information Officer Denis Goulet has been nominated for a second four-year term by recently re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.
The state’s Executive Council will vote on the nomination May 1.
Goulet was appointed CIO in April 2015 by Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. If the Executive Council approves Goulet’s reappointment, he will have held his job through the state’s transition to a Republican governor. Term limits in New Hampshire make this more typical than in some other states, since gubernatorial elections occur every two years, and major commissioners like Goulet — commissioner of the state’s Department of Information Technology — have four-year contracts.
“That’s one of the great things about New Hampshire,” Goulet said. “These appointments are completely independent of [elections], so if there were a new governor after the next cycle, all the appointments remain the same.”
Goulet’s first four years leading New Hampshire’s DoIT focused largely on people and processes: He said he produced the state’s first IT strategic plan in over a decade, improved the department’s relationships with agency partners, worked to boost staff training and morale, modernized a few key systems, improved transparency to the Legislature, and partnered with Homeland Security and Emergency Management to launch a state Cyber Integration Center (NHCIC) and update the state’s cybercontingency plan.
Looking ahead, Goulet said his department’s priorities closely align with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Top 10 Priorities, including cybersecurity; digital government and service delivery; data management; and leveraging data to solve problems, such as the opioid crisis.
He said Gov. Sununu asked him to focus on making technology work for constituents, not just government. And one of the keys to doing that, he said, is seeing through the eyes of users, of citizens, and involving them in the process.
“He and I are closely aligned on the idea of improving customer service to the citizens and businesses of New Hampshire,” Goulet said. “Digital government plays into that in a big way, particularly how we project our digital government assets out to our citizens and businesses, how we tailor them, not in the traditional fashion that state governments use, which is at an agency-by-agency level, but in a way that’s citizen-friendly or business-friendly in New Hampshire.”
More specifically, Goulet said he wants to create a single identifier for citizens to access digital services, and also make it more practical for people and businesses to follow government processes and regulations.
“Centralizing IT is helpful, but more so it’s agency collaboration on things,” he said. “For example, if you’re starting a new business in New Hampshire today, you might have to go to several different agencies to get all of the things you need to start your business. We’d rather have there be one place to go for somebody opening a business.”