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Todd Shanley

CIO, Cabarrus County, N.C.

Todd Shanley
David Kidd/Government Technology
He started working for Cabarrus County 23 years ago, at the bottom: a part-time intern helping with a GIS project. Many promotions later, Todd Shanley is now the CIO in charge of enterprise IT operations. But Shanley’s story is more than how he pursued new IT challenges, gained a master’s degree and rose through the ranks. It’s one of persistence, consistency and passion. His efforts, together with his well-trained staff, have now become a story of achievement. For the past six years, Cabarrus County has consistently scored in the top 10 for the Center for Digital Government’s* annual Digital Counties Survey. Last year, it came in first place.

Shanley attributes the county’s IT excellence to three key factors: an IT shared services model; dedicated, well-trained and empowered workers; and the backing of county leadership. “They understand the impact of IT on the county, the employees and the citizens,” he said.

Shared services are well established in Cabarrus, and the results show. A new 911 system has become a backup to other counties in the area. Cabarrus has developed a multijurisdictional mass communication solution, migrating county and city systems from scattered implementations to a single deployment. Similarly, the county has deployed a building permit and planning platform that will be used by several cities. It has also opened up the county data center to support backup needs for two school districts.

Shanley peppers these accomplishments with inclusive words like “collaboration” and “partners,” recognizing that the difference between success and failure comes down to the quality of people who work under him. “I am hands-on when it comes to finding the right people,” he said. “I want to make sure they have the same passion for the job that I do.”

Most importantly, it’s about making sure everyone understands that the county does a lot of different things and technology makes that possible. “That’s the challenge that gets me up in the morning,” said Shanley. “It’s the hope we can provide the different services people need and have an impact on local government.”

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology and a columnist at Governing magazine.