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Modernizing Services and Driving Efficiency in Oklahoma

Oklahoma CIO Joe McIntosh explains how his agency is overhauling its core services and empowering staff to do their jobs to the fullest. Plus, he shares what he's working on as head of the state's AI task force.

Oklahoma CIO Joe McIntosh
Image courtesy Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services
Joe McIntosh was elevated to Oklahoma’s CIO position in July 2023 after three years serving as the state IT shop’s senior director of application and data services. He’s been busy in his new role, working on modernization and efficiency while also chairing the state’s AI task force.

1. What are your top priorities?

One is using technology to drive efficiency across state government. That means streamlining our processes for automation, enabling data-driven decision-making and changing the way we think about customer engagement. We’re also looking at core services like licensing and making them more efficient. Some are antiquated processes that are very paper-driven. People have to drive long distances to brick and mortars; we’re working on making it a better online experience.

We’re also working on employee empowerment, whether it’s through workstation support, maturing IT service management or implementing zero touch for computer deployments. There’s also a lot of focus on modernizing legacy systems, expanding and increasing the efficiency of the state’s network, and continuing to mature IT operations. We’re also focused on data enablement. We now have a data strategy and, more importantly, a big data platform to create a unified system where we can share data more easily.

2. What’s next for Oklahoma with AI?

The governor just released the AI task force findings. Next, we’re going to present the findings to all our agencies, and then we’re going to coordinate with the governor’s office on implementing strategic and tactical goals identified within the report.

There are four goals for businesses: enhance Oklahoma’s economy through increased investment in AI infrastructure, ensure AI is implemented ethically, implement AI education, and support AI innovation through research and development, public-private partnerships, and adding startups to make Oklahoma a hub for cutting-edge technology.

Our goals for supporting AI implementation are creating leadership positions in the state — such as potentially establishing a chief artificial intelligence officer — establishing an AI oversight committee, an economic development task force, an AI digital workforce task force and an AI talent task force.

3. How do you support modernization for state agencies?

You start with business process optimization. The reality is many of these agencies have inefficient processes in place. We want to partner with them to understand which processes are working well and driving value, and then evaluate whether we can do those processes in a better way, looking toward things like automation and AI. We help state agencies improve transparency and enable better fiscal oversight through tools like the Performance Improvement Graph.

The state supports 1,500 to 2,000 applications across more than 180 agencies, boards and commissions. This is a very complex environment with numerous unique lines of business. As they’re budgeting 12 to 18 months out, they need to understand where to invest dollars, whether it’s continuing to support legacy systems or modernizing new systems.

4. What lies ahead for 2024?

Our Oklahoma IT Strategic Plan is available online. It has our three-year objectives across security, customer service/IT operations, application development, data, network/server and administration. During the pandemic in 2020, we implemented a lot of new technology in a hurry to solve problems. It was much needed. Now, the reality is we need to circle back and understand whether we’re achieving value out of those products. When you implement something quickly, you may forgo some of the fundamental things that tell you whether this is the best investment of your dollars.

This story originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.