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Building Inclusion and Going Cloud-First in Prince William County

Since his arrival in Prince William County, Va., six years ago, CIO Rob Mancini has worked toward system modernization and effective data management while striving for self-sufficient tech infrastructure.

Prince William County, Va., CIO Rob Mancini
Government Technology/David Kidd
With Rob Mancini at the helm of IT, Prince William County, Va., has made strides toward system modernization and effective data management while building a foundation of inclusivity. Since his arrival in the county six years ago, he’s been committed to fostering the growth of future tech innovators and pursuing self-sufficiency in technological infrastructure.

1. What big tech projects has Prince William County tackled recently?

Our technology modernization program was one notable digitization effort. It was effectively a complete do-over of county technology, infrastructure and communications from the data center to the backbone of the county network. We’ve completely redesigned and rebuilt the system to operate on a high-speed, 400 GB backbone on par with Comcast and Verizon’s software. The updated system cleared the way for enhanced network security never before seen in our county.

There are two roles that government must play: saving lives and improving lives. We know that by providing a high-speed infrastructure to public safety officials in our county, we’re going to be saving more lives, and when we provide a high-speed infrastructure, with a cloud-first strategy that allows departments to buy the best possible products that the IT industry can offer, we’re helping them to improve lives.

2. What’s behind the county’s successful digital inclusion efforts?

Being the only minority-majority community in Virginia, we realized this is a community that’s just brimming with opportunities for greater inclusion efforts. The idea for the Technology Inclusion Initiative (TII) came into focus in 2020 while we were doing a lot of programming for community vaccines and realized there was an opportunity to connect better with our community directly, broadening trust between the government and those we serve. Using CARES Act funding, we were able to purchase $1.2 million worth of hot spots that were disseminated to students during the pandemic with the help of school officials and our local libraries. And we didn’t stop there because technology inclusion is composed of three things: access; literacy and education; and affordability.

Through the TII, we partnered with a local business called FutureKings to teach digital literacy classes, starting with the aging population, that would fill up the same day using the NorthStar Digital Navigator platform. We were recently also awarded the largest Affordable Connectivity Program grant in the state to assist with the affordability component.

3. How do you foster collaboration among agencies?

Throughout the year, we work with several quadrants of government including public safety, human services and economic development to better our technology services. For example, we have a statewide program called “no wrong door” in which we work closely with human services to help them build a “no wrong door” infrastructure by uncovering new digital solutions to strengthen processes, essentially through Salesforce and Amazon solutions. The department has been able to lower its call turnaround times and their abandon rate. As a team, we have a great relationship across our departments, and we really bring a “how can we help you today?” mindset.

4. How can you influence the next generation of tech leaders?

I really like helping the next generation of future leaders recognize that they don’t have to settle for typical government IT. From working in the private industry previously, I am convinced that government can run at the speed of private industry. I did it when I was in Washington, D.C., and I want my efforts to be an example. There are many aspects of being the right type of IT leader that I want to impart to the next generation so that they can build on whatever success we leave behind because someone once did the same for me.

This issue originally appeared in the September issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Ashley Silver is a staff writer for Government Technology. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo and a graduate degree in public relations from Kent State University. Silver is also a published author with a wide range of experience in editing, communications and public relations.