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Jonathan Behnke

CIO, San Diego

San Diego CIO Jonathan Behnke
Jonathan Behnke, San Diego’s CIO of nearly seven years, is helping steer California’s second largest city by population through the rough waters of the COVID-19 pandemic by listening closely to staffers and residents alike.

Behnke has focused the rollout of digital services during the pandemic on engaging residents and city employees in smarter, more innovative ways. The city’s Development Services Department moved all permitting online last year and uses Google Meet to conduct virtual building inspections. Officials expanded Internet access at city facilities during COVID-19, opening outdoor community computer labs at 10 libraries with laptops available for checkout, and expanded the San Diego Access 4 All digital equity program with more Internet service in parks. A plan to deploy more than 200 street-based Wi-Fi hot spots is also in the works.

Four areas of internal progress are helping San Diego move forward on its digital transformation. The city has adopted ITIL best practices, and more than 90 percent of its service delivery staff are certified in ITIL — which is also incorporated into IT service contracts. Officials have also created a strategic technology advisory committee with directors of all departments among its members to provide feedback on priorities, tech initiatives and tools. In 2019, the city created a digital strategy group located in IT that works with all departments; it has also created a group within IT that focuses on IT contracts, manages large RFPs and works with other departments on their procurements.

Behnke recommends making time to celebrate IT’s successes, even as teams move swiftly from project to project, and is optimistic that there are many more successes ahead. “I think COVID has really helped us accelerate digital transformation, and as an IT organization, we’re excited to keep it rolling,” he said.
Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.