After six years leading the city of El Paso, Texas’ IT department, cutting costs while expanding services, Enrique Martinez Jr., will head to the Dallas-area city of Arlington in September.
When Enrique Martinez Jr., joined the city of El Paso, Texas’ Department of Information Technology Services in 2011, the city was in the process of centralizing its agencies, which included consolidating IT resources. Martinez was director of the department two years later, and now, having overseen a simultaneous expansion of services and cost-saving efforts, he’s moving next month to a new job as chief technology officer of Arlington, Texas.
Born and raised in El Paso, Martinez said his first public-sector job in his hometown was a learning experience, and the move to Arlington is about timing, career trajectory and his family’s interests. He’ll wrap up his tenure in El Paso on Sept. 11 and start in Arlington Sept. 23. Assistant Director Araceli Guerra will be interim IT director of El Paso upon Martinez’s departure.
Reflecting on eight years with El Paso’s IT Department, Martinez said one of the major developments was the construction of a new, second data center in 2011, a mutual investment with El Paso County that included backup generators, an HVAC system and other infrastructure to make it reliable. He said the project gave the city better auditing control and visibility into its systems.
“One of the biggest focal points, as a result of some of the challenges with the infrastructure, was to upgrade and centralize not only the IT support staff, but also ... all of our infrastructure in two data centers: one managed by the city and one managed by the county,” he said. “It was to minimize our operational risk as it relates to servers and data center environment, and gain some efficiencies by having a centrally located backup system … both in the county side and the city side.”
The new data center also allowed the city to achieve a major ERP upgrade in 2012.
From 2013 to 2019, Martinez said there was a citywide emphasis on an organizational strategic plan, and his department’s main contributions were identifying efficiencies, delivering new technologies, solidifying performance and reliability of internal IT infrastructure, and finding more than $10 million in cost efficiencies.
He said the department did this by scrutinizing operations: reducing public-safety radio costs with a shared network, consolidating contracts for mobile services, right-sizing ERP permitting and software licensing and saving on labor costs by investing in internal staff to so they could perform some of the vendors’ services themselves. As an example, Martinez said when the city opened a new sports complex, the IT Department saved more than $143,000 by using internal resources instead of vendors.
“Over the last six or seven years, a lot of these investments, and even internal promotions, have not come with an increase in budget,” he said.
Even so, Martinez said his department managed to improve Internet services across the city. In 2015, as part of the strategic plan, his goal was to upgrade Internet speeds at 16 libraries, rec centers and other community service centers, and then expand Wi-Fi to 27 of those facilities by 2020. He said his department has already done so for more than 40 facilities in each case.
Looking ahead, Martinez said the focus will need to be on simplifying and extending the way El Paso delivers services to citizens through the use of technology, as well as on cybersecurity and ERP modifications.
“The big challenge is similar across many municipalities in light of the recent ransomware attacks,” he said. “I’d have to say cybersecurity [should] remain at the forefront, and really leading on some of those private-public partnerships to further minimize vulnerabilities that are being compromised on a daily basis.”
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