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W.Va. CIO Balances Emerging Tech Buzzwords With IT Outcomes

West Virginia CIO Josh Spence describes the problem of letting buzzwords get in the way of tech’s utility, plus how his state is using artificial intelligence for fraud detection.

West Virginia CIO Josh Spence
West Virginia CIO Josh Spence
Government Technology/David Kidd
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — When GT asked CIOs at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Midyear Conference this week for their takes on emerging tech, many shared a common sentiment: Newer technologies, no matter the hype, are only as useful to government as the results they can deliver.

West Virginia CIO Josh Spence said the problem when we talk about emerging tech — things like cryptocurrency, NFTs and machine learning — is that people tend to confuse those buzzwords with outcomes. Cutting-edge technologies, just like more legacy solutions, are tools that produce outcomes; they are not the outcomes themselves.

Spence said he currently sees the most promise in using artificial intelligence to advance West Virginia’s systems, an area his department is just beginning to explore.

"We're looking at [AI] and trying to understand what the capabilities are that are mature today," he said, "and then keep on the market so we can forecast uses in the future."

One current use case for the state is AI to detect fraudulent use of state services. If West Virginia can quickly identify and deal with users inappropriately accessing the system, Spence explained, they can keep costs down and get a good return on investment in the technology.

Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> 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.