​South Dakota stays in ‘fast-follower’ mode on road to technological innovation

One of the state's top tech officials discusses government's unique position in the technology landscape.

State government may never be on leading edge of technology, but it can at least be a fast follower.

Jim Edman, chief security officer for the state of South Dakota, met with StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference in September to share his perspective on the state’s ongoing challenges and emerging opportunities.

All state technology leaders are concerned with cybersecurity, he said, and while South Dakota mainly takes a reactive stance, preparation can go a long way. Keeping up requires creative organizational thinking, he said, because his office can’t rely on funding to bail them out of the cybersecurity pickle.

“There aren’t very many states that get an increase in budget, so by our nature, we have to find where we can save money in one hand and translate it to the other hand so we can offer new and improved services,” he said.


Taking on new projects and being innovative requires partnership with agencies because they’re the ones doing the state’s business, Edman explained. And to attract new talent, the state has a unique position, he pointed out.

“I think generally speaking, the passion comes from the ability to make a significant difference across the enterprise,” Edman said. “In our state, we’re fortunate enough to be in a very centralized organization, so our department has responsibility all the way from the desktop, through network, through data center, through applications, education and training and cyber, with security. So the passion is pretty easy to develop when you have that enterprise view and that ability to make a difference on a daily basis. That’s what I think differentiates us from a lot of other opportunities folks have to work with.”

Colin Wood

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He's reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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