CIO, Workforce Development, Iowa
Like many state offices, Iowa’s Workforce Development agency had its belt severely tightened during the recession. But CIO Gary Bateman responded to budget constraints with innovative technology that cut costs while ensuring that services remained accessible to Iowa’s 3 million residents.
By deploying 1,800 thin clients in places like libraries and National Guard armories, the agency increased the number of locations where residents can sign up for unemployment benefits while saving millions of dollars by closing brick-and-mortar offices. The project began in July 2013 and has been instrumental in shuttering many of Workforce Development’s 55 physical offices.
The cloud and open source technology also have become instrumental, as Bateman works to leverage them in numerous ways. A new workers’ compensation system and job search portal will be hosted in the cloud. And the agency used the open source Drupal platform to develop an online unemployment claims interface that’s user-friendly, reliable and accessible on any device.
The platform’s interface is largely hosted through Amazon’s cloud-based services, making it Iowa’s first cloud-hosted app. “For this coming year, the cloud is going to be the big thing that we’re pushing for,” said Bateman, who was named CIO of the agency in 2010.
As Iowa Workforce Development implements these shifts in strategy, Bateman is working with his staff to ensure that employees have the new skill sets these technologies require. “I like working with people who get enthusiastic about their work, not people who just consider it a day job, but people who get excited about technology in general, so I try to promote that,” he said. “I look for ways to get people excited about new projects, new technologies and how we can use those to benefit the state.”