North Dakota Hires Chief Reinvention Officer to Innovate IT

CIO Shawn Riley has recruited Kevin Parker as the state's new chief reinvention officer to use his wide-ranging academic and professional experience to help rethink, retool and enhance citizen-centric IT services.

To reimagine and retool more customer-centric services in North Dakota, state CIO Shawn Riley announced the hiring of Kevin Parker as the new chief reinvention officer (CRO).

Parker, an Illinois native, previously served as the group chief information officer for the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology before joining North Dakota. The CRO is responsible for deploying statewide reinvention initiatives through technology, training, digital engagement and enhanced user experiences, according to a press release issued by the North Dakota Information Technology Department (ITD).

“I think when you look at my career and you look at its trajectory, I think the timing worked out really well for me to take that step forward and to apply the diversity of skill that I’ve not only developed in the government sector, but also my academic training in that respect,” Parker told Government Technology. “It’s kind of a good marriage of that, but I think, more excitingly, is the potential for North Dakota to be a lab state for innovation.”

ITD spokeswoman Kelly Ivahnenko said Parker would expand on projects started under the state’s first CRO, Julie Cabinaw, who came on board in August 2018. Ivahnenko said the position is similar to a chief digital officer within other state governments.

“A lot of it comes down to our goal of creating a citizen-centric platform or experience, where it’s all about what data we have of citizens and that’s one of the most important functions of state government, whether it’s your driver’s license information, Social Security information and tax information,” she said. “How we not only protect that, but how we use it to give you the services that you need at the right time and place.”

In a prepared statement, CIO Shawn Riley said Parker’s diversity of experience, from director of government innovation for Rhode Island to engagement manager for the city of Boston, will enhance his department’s ability to serve North Dakotans.

“From his track record building partnerships, to his involvement in data-driven efforts that drive value for agencies and citizens, we are excited to welcome him to the team,” Riley said.

Parker said he believes his experience in collaborating with academic institutions, establishing employee recognition programs and creating shared spaces will help break down siloed thinking and kickstart innovative ideas.

“You can kind of get a sense that many of my answers are describing this interrelated ecosystem that we have in government and I think that that’s what this role in particular is going to be thinking about,” he said. “How we pull on each of those strings, have alignment with our governor and Shawn [Riley], the CIO, and their top initiatives because we’re trying to drive the state forward.”

Projects that Parker inherits oversight of include the implementation of business process improvement training for state employees, expansion of a standardized state website platform and spreading North Dakota’s “growth mindset” culture through participation in local, regional and national events, conferences and webinars, the release states.

“[Gov. Doug Burgum and Riley are] locked and loaded on how to capitalize on having a great cast of characters, the team there is fabulous and I think that they see me as a nice complementary piece to the groundwork that’s already been laid and to keep moving the ball forward.”

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.