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2021 NASCIO Awards Honor Innovation in Technology

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers recently honored people and projects that have demonstrated innovation in technology within the public sector, and named a new president.

The NASCIO logo
People and projects in public-sector technology were recognized at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) 2021 Annual Conference in Seattle. Winners of the State Technology Innovator Award, the 2021 Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award and the State IT Recognition Awards were presented earlier this week.

The organization also announced a change in leadership. Michael Leahy, secretary of information technology with the Maryland Department of Information Technology, was named the new NASCIO president. Leahy replaces Denis Goulet, CIO and commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Information Technology, who became NASCIO president in February 2020.


The recipients of the State Technology Innovator Award were Rick Klau, Dale Richardson and Julia Richman.

This award was presented to the three public servants based on their efforts to advance state technology policy through advocating for best practices and adopting or implementing new technologies.

Rick Klau, chief technology innovation officer with the California Department of Technology, notably joined the public sector after volunteering to help California with COVID-19-related vaccination data. Since being asked to join the team in early 2021, he has overseen the creation of digital vaccine records as well as the state’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal.

Dale Richardson, chief operations officer of the Texas Department of Information Resources, was recognized for leadership during both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Texas winter storm of 2021. Ensuring continuity of IT processes proved critical at this time. Richardson was also recognized for the implementation of the Texas Data Center Services model.

Julia Richman, the deputy executive director of the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), helped support over 32,000 state employees as they transitioned to remote work. Richman served as the connection between OIT and the Governor’s Innovation Response Team. In August 2020, she launched a two-year program to transform IT for the state. She also led the establishment of an IT Rates and Services Board and an IT Strategy and Planning Board.


Texas CISO Nancy Rainosek was named the recipient of the 2021 Thomas M. Jarrett State Cybersecurity Leadership Award. The award honors state CISOs for their accomplishments in the field. The award evolved from a scholarship created to pay homage to a former NASCIO president and his passion for cybersecurity.

Rainosek was nominated by Amanda Crawford, Texas CIO and executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). The submission underlined Rainosek’s role in combating a major 2019 ransomware attack through a statewide cyber incident response plan.

Additionally, Rainosek is being recognized for other cybersecurity efforts, like implementing multi-factor authentication for state agencies, and cybersecurity training election security assessments for Texas counties. She also established the Texas Information Sharing and Analysis Organization.


Finally, NASCIO announced recipients of the 2021 NASCIO State IT Recognition Awards, which recognize the use of IT in problem solving and improving government service delivery.

The State CIO Office Special Recognition Award was received by California for My Turn: California’s Front Door to Vaccine Access.

The Business Process Innovations Award went to Georgia for the Georgia Department of Labor’s Identity Verification Project — Halt! Who goes there?

The Cross-Boundary Collaboration and Partnerships Award was received by Connecticut for Contact Tracing Innovation with the ContaCT platform.

The Cybersecurity Award was received by Ohio for Bringing Power to the People with Self-Service Tools and Account Transparency.

The Data Management, Analytics and Visualization Award was received by North Carolina for Bridging the Data Divide and Bringing Health Equity.

The Government to Business Award was received by Colorado for Simplifying Colorado’s Sales and Use Tax Filings.

The Government to Citizen Award was received by Louisiana for Virtualizing Disaster SNAP.

The Emerging and Innovative Technologies Award was received by Pennsylvania for its Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Robotic Process Automation.

The Enterprise IT Management Initiatives Award was received by North Carolina for leadership in Next-Gen 911.

The Information Communications Technology Innovations Award was received by the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology for Turning Raw Data into Actionable Insight with Location Intelligence.

More information on the award recipients can be found on NASCIO’s website.