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Annette Dunn

CIO, Iowa

Iowa CIO Annette Dunn
Annette Dunn wants to embrace innovation when it comes to how technology is deployed in Iowa, and she’s not easily dissuaded. Undaunted by many of the traditional stumbling blocks to government modernization, she said last year, “I refuse to have the right thing shut down because of politics.”

As it happens, Dunn has an ally in Gov. Kim Reynolds, who supported Dunn’s pitch to move to a statewide ERP system, bringing new visibility and transparency into the state’s full budget picture by uniting data across agencies on a common system. The HR system will be added this year, and mid-2022 is the target date to add financial system functionality. The upgrade mirrors one Dunn undertook while CIO at the state Department of Transportation, her last stop before the CIO’s office.

The project was underway when the pandemic struck, and it has continued during the many months of largely remote work for Dunn’s team. Like so many IT organizations across the country, most technical staff in Iowa have made the switch to home offices, waiting for updates each month on when they might return to in-office work. In mid-November 2020, she decided to table the question until at least June. “Nothing was broken by working remotely,” she explained. “I wanted to give people just a piece of certainty.”

The pandemic has also changed her management approach. She’s pivoted to new ways of connecting with

the workforce, like regular question-and-answer sessions to share information and keep people connected.

Looking ahead, Dunn is working on building a new e-government portal where citizens can access multiple government services in one place. Now in the pilot stage with three different agencies, she’s hopeful this proof of concept will grow into a smart system that citizens can move seamlessly through with a single identity, using a single payment system, suggesting additional services to citizens along the way.

Her approach inspires optimism that ambitious endeavors like this will come to fruition. “We don’t have to be in these antiquated old processes and systems,” she said. “We really can be innovative and our state can be customer-centric.”
Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she 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. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.