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Collaboration and Cooperation Fuel Innovation in Ohio

Emphasizing the importance of creating a common vision across the state, chief information officer Ervan Rodgers works with groups like Innovate Ohio and Recovery Ohio to further long-term goals.

The former CIO for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ervan Rodgers takes both a strategic and a tactical view of the statewide office that he assumed in January. 

Strategy means ensuring all agencies share a common vision and direction. Tactically he has his eye on data and analytics as a potential common bond, a tool that could be used across multiple agencies. Backing from the governor and lieutenant governor plays an important role: “It’s a big help for me as state CIO to have that kind of support,” he said. 

One top priority is to engage with Innovate Ohio, an interagency effort to boost citizen service. “The purpose is to take a look at the citizen journey,” he said. “They should be able to do things via mobile apps and websites and applications to save time, money and effort.” 

In order to get government technologists all rowing in the same direction, Rodgers convened a think tank of agency CIOs within a month of coming on the job. “We walked away with a number of key critical ideas that we can implement right away to improve efficiencies,” he said. First on the agenda: Build customer portals to streamline access to government services. “That process will take time, but we had some immediate synergies between different lines of business across various agencies. We can put that infrastructure in place.” 

Another long-term goal involves the continued consolidation of government’s IT infrastructure, which could be completed within the coming year. At the same time, Rodgers will be backing the Recovery Ohio initiative, leveraging technology to combat the opioid crisis. 

His big challenge will be to shift a culture in which agencies are used to going it alone when it comes to IT initiatives. “Instead of agencies having the option to opt out, we want to emphasize the collaboration and cooperation. Assuming we meet all the regulatory requirements, there should only be very limited scenarios where data can’t be shared,” he said. 

This story is part of a series profiling new state and local government CIOs.

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.