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GovTech's Top 25 2023: Spotlighting Transformation Champions

The winners of Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers awards for 2023 are a group of IT and other professionals pushing the limits of what it means to do the people's business.

Imagine being so enamored with a government service that you grab a guitar, call a support line and leave a song of adoration as a voicemail message. Hard to fathom? Indeed, but it happened. Ask Wisconsin Department of Revenue CIO Rick Offenbecher, whose agency embarked upon a path to innovation a few years ago. There’s so much momentum behind their continuous improvement efforts, he reports, that he characterizes the agency’s culture this way: “We went from being change resistant, to in some regard being addicted to change.”

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area of the country that thousands of others consider a vacation spot, you may have noticed a growing wave of new neighbors that you’ve never met. The growth of the short-term rental market is challenging local officials in myriad ways, as GT columnist Stephen Goldsmith discusses in his column this month. Scottsdale, Ariz., CIO Bianca Lochner and her team are confronting the issue with data. Specifically, they are building a platform with up-to-date information on the compliance of short-term rental properties with applicable local regulations, as well as a way for residents to air their concerns. It’s a powerful example of a data-driven, citizen-focused approach.

Decades spent in firefighting agencies in California demonstrate an honorable commitment to public service. But as recent Fire Chief of the Year honoree Brian Fennessy has shown, that commitment isn’t limited to incident response. While serving as fire chief in San Diego, Fennessy toured a nearby military contractor’s facility where he learned that sensors were being used to aid in situational awareness on the battlefield. Fennessy helped bring that same capability to wildfire scenes, offering much better maps and intelligence, in turn enabling a more informed and effective response.

“Whole of state” is a relatively new term in the gov tech lexicon. Over the past few years, many have started to embrace the philosophy relative to cybersecurity. “Whole of state” now refers to the acknowledgment by states that they should take some responsibility for the overall cybersecurity posture of organizations within their borders. Indiana CIO Tracy Barnes has taken this to heart, extending the view to matters beyond cybersecurity. A statewide tour of Indiana’s counties helped build relationships and led to concrete collaboration with dozens of local agencies. The state has given free cyber training to nearly 100 agencies and stood up low-cost websites for many more.

Offenbecher, Lochner, Fennessy and Barnes are four of the honorees we’re proud to spotlight in Government Technology’s 2023 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers. It’s an impressive lineup of people devoted to the use of technology to propel government, and their communities, toward a brighter future. Get a sense of the whole group with our infographic and read all of our Top 25 profiles. In this issue, we honor their work and hope you will find sources of inspiration, as we did, for your own transformation efforts.

And speaking of transformation, we’re undergoing a bit of a metamorphosis of our own. This month, we are introducing a new form factor to help reach an even broader audience than we have with the print version of the magazine we have produced since 1987. We’ll uphold our decades-long tradition of award-winning design and editorial with a new, digital magazine platform. This pivot toward the future unlocks capabilities for digital storytelling that will help bring our stories to life in new ways. Join us on this journey by subscribing here.

This story originally appeared in the April/May issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.