Secretary, Maryland Department of Information Technology
A self-proclaimed advocate of technology, Maryland Chief Information Officer Michael Leahy credits listening to others and making technology accessible as critical to creating innovation.
Appointed acting secretary of information technology in 2017 and made permanent the following year, Leahy has been at the helm of several efforts to improve how state government operates and increase engagement among Maryland’s citizens using technology. Among them is a robust transparency portal, offering easy-to-understand data about the state’s budget picture.
Leahy was among the first voices in government IT to suggest that remote work may be permanently viable for most Maryland technical staff, extending the possibility to other agencies whose work could be accomplished virtually or with smaller physical footprints.
“I’m giving serious thought to turning my agency practically, except for our NOC [network operations center], SOC [security operations center], things of that sort, into a virtual agency,” he said last May, pointing to how such a strategy could help close revenue shortfalls from the pandemic.
Having recently completed a OneStop portal to meet the licensing, permitting and certification needs of multiple agencies, Leahy’s IT organization proved nimble in adding functionality to the system to serve pandemic-related needs. DoIT worked with the Department of Commerce to enable the portal to also distribute aid for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 — and they did it in hours.
Another recent change is a “plain English” policy implemented in 2019, intended to help agencies clearly convey their challenges so that technology can be leveraged to help. He also created a new intake process, which gives agencies a central entry point to get IT support, essentially a “no wrong door approach.”
These moves are indicative of Leahy’s practical style that focuses on communication and a keen understanding of business needs. “It’s important to talk to folks about how things should proceed and how their insights and experience can play a role in how technology affects government,” he said.
— Katya Maruri
Never miss a story with the daily Govtech Today Newsletter.