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A special report on digital transformation

Digital transformation, the never-ending process of upgrading old computer systems and business processes with more modern and efficient ones, is an esoteric subject that the public usually only hears about when something goes wrong or a long-gestating project blows past its deadline and budget. Chief information officers and the teams they lead are aware of the crucial roles they plan behind the scenes, though those roles are increasingly visible as government becomes more tech-dependent. In a new package, StateScoop and EdScoop reporters dive into digital transformation, looking at why motor-vehicles departments <a href="https://preprod.statescoop.com/it-modernization-why-so-hard-dmv-upgrade-technology/">always seem to struggle</a> with big tech projects, the <a href="https://preprod.edscoop.com/traditional-it-vanishing-from-higher-education/">disappearance of traditional IT</a> from college campuses, how the COVID-19 pandemic will <a href="https://preprod.statescoop.com/coronavirus-pandemic-could-crush-state-digital-transformation/">set back governments' transformation plans</a> for years to come and much more. See the full report.

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Why the DMV never transforms

Though motor-vehicle offices in any state have never been known for outstanding customer service, several states have tried to reverse the stereotype by modernizing driver-licensing vehicle-registration systems in hopes of delivering more efficient and more accessible tools for customers. But replacing decades-old systems with digital services can take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars if agencies don’t prioritize good governance and employee training throughout the process, according to several state officials who’ve led digital transformations themselves. Anyone who's followed state IT over the years will be familiar with the follies of Minnesota's decade-long catastrophe of a $100 million licensing system that never worked, for one. Ryan Johnston dives in.

COVID-19 is crushing digital transformation plans

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended how government works, forcing a sudden shift to widespread telework, an unprecedented demand on public-benefit programs like unemployment insurance and an almost universal cessation of in-person services due to social-distancing measures. While this quick and radical overhaul of how government works may seem like an opportunity to accelerate projects, its more likely to present IT officials with a host of new cybersecurity challenges, as government workers log in on unvetted devices and unsecured home Wi-Fi networks. And even when it's safe to go back to the office, modernization agendas may be delayed for years, as states shred their budgets to compensate for steep revenue losses. "States are going to have to slow down things to a degree," said NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson. Benjamin Freed reports.

Traditional IT is vanishing from higher education

As technology increasingly supports all functions of a university — from student services to business processes — IT leaders say that creating a culture of collaboration is critical to modernize the institution and better support the university's business and education goals. Once stuck in backroom IT shops, higher education CIOs say they now have a seat at the executive table, responsible for critical business decisions. "How I deliver on the capabilities that the university needs is my call, not the university's call," said Southern New Hampshire University's Tom Dionisios. Betsy Foresman reports on EdScoop.

Replace your data landfill with a digital workflow

State agencies face soaring amounts of unstructured digital records and documents. The solution, according to Alan Smith of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, is to create a digital workflow that will enable the purging of paper records and digital duplicates, while ensuring the digital landfill never reappears. Smith writes in a commentary that states should calculate the full cost of their landfills, win over the data-hoarders, automate scheduling and move digital capture to the front of the business. Read the full column.

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