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Is Government Procurement Ready for Emerging Tech?

Massachusetts CIO Curt Wood is eager to explore ways new technologies can be incorporated into the enterprise, but current procurement processes aren’t set up to easily adapt to new vendors offering the latest tech.

Massachusetts Chief Information Officer Curtis Wood
Curt Wood
David Kidd/Government Technology
Curtis Wood is representative of a modern state technology leader who emphasizes the importance of communication with partners in the various business units within Massachusetts government. In the 16 months he's served in the role of chief information officer and secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology, he has worked to establish strong relationships throughout the organization so that colleagues will come to him with ideas for how emerging technology might help them better achieve their missions.

“As long as they’re [business partners] working within our framework, from a cloud perspective, SaaS perspective, security framework, we’re very much interested in that,” he said, speaking with GT at the NASCIO annual conference earlier this month. 

What can be challenging to overcome, however, once potential opportunities are identified, are the established norms of the state's procurement processes, which favor companies with several years of experience over newer companies with a fresh idea that hasn't yet fully taken hold.

For example, Massachusetts has been experimenting with ways to use artificial intelligence, conducting some pilot programs that ran into some complications, Wood explained. "When we went to do the procurement, our procurement folks weren't ready for it," he said.

That said, he is determined to bring all parties together to make sure Massachusetts can take advantage of innovations like AI in the future. "In my role, from a technology perspective, I need to be ... making sure the business, the financial folks, the procurement folks are all in alignment when these emerging technologies do come."

Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.