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David Fletcher Reflects on a Decadeslong Career in Utah IT

Utah CTO David Fletcher will be retiring this week after over two decades in the role. In his final days in public service, he shared what he has learned and accomplished in a career peppered with technological disruption.

Portrait shows David Fletcher, Utah CTO, wearing blue shirt against brown wall.
David Fletcher, a household name in Utah IT, is stepping away to retirement after several decades in public service. The longtime CTO’s final day with the state is set for Aug. 31.

Fletcher has held various roles with the state over the past three decades, most recently serving as its CTO for nearly two decades. In that time, he has seen drastic shifts in the needs of constituents and the way government meets those needs with technology.

Primarily, he underlined the work the state has undertaken in advancing digital government and digital services, which required a coordinated approach involving people across all agencies.

Fletcher also noted several major projects he was involved with in the state prior to taking the CTO role. First, as director of the Utah Division of Fuel Dispensing, he oversaw the creation of the State of Utah Fuel Network, an automated fuel network project that involved cleaning leaking underground storage tanks and eliminating redundant facilities.

The other major project he highlighted was serving as the statewide Y2K coordinator, which enabled the state to prepare a coordinated response involving the upgrading of hundreds of systems ahead of the year 2000 rollover.

Fletcher’s career has spanned major technological mile markers, including the rise of the Internet and the creation of the first state websites; the formation of the state’s 2007 e-government plan; the advent of mobile-friendly digital services with the introduction of smartphones; and the implementation of cloud technology and a cloud strategy.

Now, he says the major technological change on the horizon is artificial intelligence. Utah has been working in this space for several years, with one example of this work being the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence.

Fletcher explained that generative AI is something he uses every day, and he expects Utah to be a leader in this area. The state is working with major cloud providers to create sandbox environments that will allow testing for the use of generative AI on a broader scale.

“It’ll be the biggest thing since the Internet … so the biggest technological advancement in 30 years, I think,” Fletcher stated.

Fletcher explained that, although it can be challenging to support an organization as diverse in its business requirements as state government, the state is continually working to better align initiatives with agency goals.

He also acknowledged that there are some areas of work in which the state can improve, leaving opportunity for the new CTO Chris Williamson. Williamson brings over 20 years of technology and operations experience to the role, most recently having served as CIO for Myriad Genetics.

Fletcher’s hope for Williamson is that he will be able to “forge his own path,” even if that leads him in a different direction. He advised holding focus on being innovative and simply supporting the state of Utah and its citizens.

Although Fletcher will be stepping away from state service, he said he looks forward to seeing Williamson take on the launch of the state’s next-generation citizen portal, which is more personalized and integrates artificial intelligence into its capabilities. That portal is also integrated with the state’s single sign-on service.

“I think Utah has been fortunate to be a part of the national discussion — on digital government, especially — and it’s been a great opportunity working with other states,” Fletcher stated.
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.