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Collaboration Key to Making Data Serve Needs, Nevada CDO Says

Jason Benshoof, Nevada’s first-ever state chief data officer, said teamwork among agencies will help keep data initiatives in line with community priorities. A state staffer since 2009, he was named CDO Feb. 12.

Amid dots and lines that represent networks or data, three hands present virtual puzzle pieces.
Nevada’s inaugural chief data officer is taking a collaborative approach toward leveraging data to improve state outcomes.

For veteran state executive Jason Benshoof, the priority in his new role is to develop policies and frameworks to govern the state’s methods of data collection, storage and sharing across departments.

“We want to make sure that the state’s data is managed in a way that respects privacy and security while making it available for all of the initiatives that can benefit Nevadans,” he said.

In February, Nevada CIO Timothy Galluzi told Government Technology he considers data the state’s “greatest asset.”

Beyond the data governance piece, Benshoof will be responsible for promoting data use in policy decision-making, to help state leaders make data-informed decisions.

This will be a collaborative effort with data analysts, data scientists and other stakeholders, he said, to help shape informed policies ranging from public health to economic development. Throughout his tenure, Benshoof said he intends to work across state government and with community stakeholders to drive more effective solutions.

“I want to stress the importance of collaboration, because the collaborative approach is necessary to ensure that our data initiatives are aligned with the needs and priorities of the communities we serve,” he said.

Benshoof is the first-ever state CDO, he said, though some state agencies may already have their own data officers. His first day as state CDO was Feb. 12, an official within the Office of the CIO (OCIO) clarified in an email. Prior to being named, Benshoof had been chief IT manager of OCIO’s Client Services Unit since 2021 — but his time with Nevada dates to 2009. That includes a variety of experience in different areas, from tourism to health care, and at different levels of government, including state and tribal.

Although Benshoof has been in his new position just six weeks, he said he is already seeing opportunities to leverage data, from economy to education to public safety and beyond.

The CDO said his prior experiences, specifically those in the area of health and human services, have been influential in shaping his perspective toward government work. Health and human services case management systems, he explained, are often data-rich environments that require frequent reporting for operations and compliance. In these roles, he recognized data as a valuable tool that helped agencies receive funding opportunities, and had considerable worth in decision-making.

Part of his job as CDO, Benshoof said, entails exploration of new technologies that may help the state better manage and use data. This potentially involves initiatives to deploy AI tools to improve service delivery, or to use predictive analytics to anticipate trends.

“I think there’s a lot of agreement that the use of data will play a critical role in shaping the future of our state,” Benshoof said.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.