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Cole Sousa

CIO, Florida Department of Children and Families

Cole Sousa, CIO, Florida Department of Children and Families
Cole Sousa is no stranger to large-scale modernization efforts. In fact, he and his team are updating almost every major system the Florida Department of Children and Families has. This push for innovation has been a constant for Sousa since becoming the agency’s CIO in 2021, largely due to the pressing need to update older legacy technology.

His current work includes modernizing the state’s 20-year-old child welfare system. “We’re taking a fresh approach to modernizing that system and bringing innovations and efficiencies to our workforce when it comes to supporting citizens of Florida and providing services for child welfare,” he said.

The agency is also updating its public assistance system, which provides food and cash assistance through the SNAP and TANF programs. Florida’s largest benefits program, however, is Medicaid eligibility, processing between 5.5 and 6 million applications every year. The common thread between all three, Sousa explained, is that they directly impact the lives and well-being of Floridians.

“It’s about trying to understand what the needs and problems are, and saying, ‘OK, let’s take a step back and see how we can bring technology in to solve these problems,’” he said, prioritizing quick and efficient service delivery.

The agency launched an upgraded adult protective services system last October, followed by its public access portal in early December. As for what’s next, Sousa pointed to AI, grasping its potential to help point the agency toward the future.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of data, and we’ve also got analytics and reporting capabilities, but you need to have people who study these reports to make sense of them, and we feel like AI can help us in that space.”

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.