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West Virginia CTO Spence to Receive CIO Title, New Abilities

Next month, West Virginia Chief Technology Officer Joshua Spence will be recognized as the state chief information officer. Spence said the title change represents a larger strategic vision for the state.

West Virginia Capitol Building
Shutterstock/Sean Pavone
West Virginia Chief Technology Officer Joshua Spence will be known as the state’s chief information officer next month as part of a larger plan to improve West Virginia’s use of technology across executive agencies.

The title change, according to Spence, was prompted by a recently proposed bill by Gov. Jim Justice that looks to modernize technology within state departments.

West Virginia has been one of the only states without an official state CIO title.

In his new role, Spence will have the authority to create a committee that oversees agencies’ IT projects and to provide IT training to agencies. Additionally, he’ll be working with the West Virginia Office of Technology’s newly formed Project Management Office.

Spence said the state has started implementing a "strategic vision" of four goals: improving digital government, optimizing technology, modernizing enterprise services and increasing cybersecurity.

“We are working to push all four of those goals together as part of the modernization of those areas,” he said.

Also on Spence's to-do list is to work with executive agencies to make sure they feel empowered to use technology as a tool to benefit the state.

“It’s not about locking agencies down or limiting their choices,” Spence said. “It’s about working together to make sure agencies get what they are going after from their focused perspective while providing a broader impact to the state.”

In regard to making specific changes in state government, Spence pointed to reducing redundancies in existing processes and being open to change.

“What we don’t want is to modernize technology only to replicate existing processes with more expensive tech,” Spence said. “We need to be open to changing these processes.”

Spence also noted that cybersecurity is in the news every day, so it will be crucial for the state to gain a better understanding of how to handle risks and look at cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

"We recognize that to bring government forward, tech is a piece of that ... it's all about moving technology strategically forward," he said.
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.