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Colorado CIO David Edinger Talks Road Ahead, Next Steps

Edinger, the former CIO of the city and county of Denver, shared his priorities as he takes over from outgoing CIO Anthony Neal-Graves. He said special attention will be paid to empowering staff and process improvement.

top of Colorado Capitol building with US flag and state flag waving
Colorado’s new CIO David Edinger plans to continue the work of his predecessors, former CIO Anthony Neal-Graves and former OIT deputy executive director Julia Richman, while also implementing a similar approach to the process improvement initiative that he led in Denver.

That strategy originated while serving as the city and county’s chief performance officer and the creation of the Peak Academy, which focused on bringing employees together to learn skills and improve service delivery processes.

“And that, in Denver over the last 12 years, has created at least $65 million in hard dollar savings,” Edinger said.

An important component of that program was a shift away from what Edinger called “suggestion box culture,” empowering staff to make process improvements on their own. The approach was successful in Denver, and while Edinger said it will not be identical for OIT, he wants to use employee expertise to hone government service delivery.

After only a week in the job, he is still focused on learning as much as possible about his new agency. This involves asking questions about existing processes and goals so that his future work can help align the agency need with the goals of Gov. Jared Polis. Specifically, the governor’s top five statewide priorities include energy, health, crime prevention, land use and tax reform.

“When I made the leap from a city like Denver, the capital city, to the actual capital, then you know that the challenges change a little bit,” he said, highlighting not just the difference in scale but also the unique needs of different parts of the state. For example, Denver is composed of 78 unique neighborhoods, but Edinger said the municipality makes up less than 1 percent of the state geographically.

He pointed to the real-world example of this disparity in the digital equity space. While Denver’s digital equity needs are primarily centered around affordability of Internet service, other parts of the state face affordability and connectivity issues.

Because of the collaborative relationships he built at the local level, Edinger feels well positioned to work with municipalities to advance technology use in different areas — including expanding connectivity and developing AI policy.

Another major area he plans to focus on is accessibility. The state’s work in this space so far has included the launch of the Aira tool for Coloradans with low vision and a pilot program to help state workers better serve individuals with disabilities using VR, but there is more work to be done. Accessibility across state government is a critical piece to ensuring all constituents are served equitably, he said.

And although Edinger expects emerging technologies to continue to impact government, he also underlined the importance of effective enterprise management systems. The technology working behind the scenes is an important foundation for any future innovation, he said.

At the heart of Edinger’s vision for OIT is the people — employees and constituents alike. Empowering employees through things like process improvements, Lean, and other technology-enabled advances is the best way to make state government better, he said.

“I will just say I am confident that investing in people and unlocking their potential is the way we will get there,” he said.

The brief period of overlap between Edinger and Neal-Graves has helped enable a smooth transition for OIT to prepare the agency for future work under Edinger’s leadership. As Neal-Graves recently told Government Technology, the future for OIT is bright. He expects the state to continue advancing in digital government and digital equity.
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.