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John Quinn

CIO, Vermont

Vermont CIO John Quinn
In the five years since John Quinn took over as state CIO and head of Vermont’s Agency of Digital Services (ADS), he’s continued on a trajectory of leadership in state government that was two decades in the making.

Inspired by the recommendation of a family member that government IT might be a good spot for him, Quinn started as a temp worker at the state’s help desk right out of college, learning what it meant to have a career helping Vermonters. Since then, he’s focused on the intersection of business and government, spending time in enterprise project management, enterprise applications, and as the chief innovation officer. Having also served on two local town councils and spent 13 years as a volunteer firefighter, he said, “I’ve always had this sense of duty to give back, and this job fits right into that model.”

As chief innovation officer under Gov. Phil Scott, Quinn helped spearhead a major consolidation of Vermont IT, an initiative he continued when Scott appointed him CIO in 2017. And that consolidation was no small feat. It involved the support of the Legislature as well as IT staff spread across the enterprise. Getting their buy-in was key, Quinn said, so they ended up leaving many of those staff in their existing agencies, but changing the way IT services were billed; this meant staff could primarily work where they felt a sense of purpose but could also move around as needed.

That trust he had built in ADS was essential again in 2021, when Quinn testified before the Legislature in favor of a dedicated modernization fund to help shift Vermont from a capex to an opex model. Vermont ended up dedicating $66 million toward 16 new IT projects across the state. This year Quinn anticipates $40 million more will get those projects over the finish line.

He cites investment in strong cybersecurity and the unification of IT platforms as other significant accomplishments, but he is also proud of how far he’s come in his career. From the help desk to the governor’s cabinet, it’s been quite a ride.
Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.