Priorities Season 4

Digital government’s challenges are rarely technical

Building a “digital government” is an obvious goal for most state chief information officers because it’s the main route to streamlining the many government services people rely on. But New Hampshire state CIO Denis Goulet tells StateScoop that “most of the challenges are not technical.” Rather, he’s faced some resistance from within his organization as he’s attempted to pry his colleagues away from longheld institutional practices that don’t necessarily yield the most convenient tools for its residents.

“It’s a hard message because in New Hampshire, the public information officers, or PIO group, have traditionally been responsible for their digital presence and they believe they know what they need to do to project to the citizens. And I’ve been telling them that they don’t and that they should listen to their citizens and their businesses they’re supporting. It’s not always an easy message,” Goulet says on the latest episode of StateScoop’s Priorities podcast.

Delaware CIO James Collins says his challenges around digital government, too, have largely pertained to organizational structure, rather than finding adequate technical solutions.

“The challenge is really to get folks to … step back and take a broader view of how are we as a government delivering services to the citizens and taking an enterprise approach. That requires a level of collaboration which we have not yet achieved but I’m confident that if we can create a compelling vision, I don’t think it will be hard to get decision-makers — whether they be the governor’s office, lawmakers or agency partners — on board with that vision,” Collins says on the podcast.

On this episode, Collins and Goulet outline their definitions of what it means to be a “digital government,” the current challenges they face as they attempt to create a consistent digital experience for the public, and how their states’ overall centralization has contributed to these efforts.

On the podcast:

  • James Collins, chief information officer, Delaware
  • Denis Goulet, chief information officer, New Hampshire
  • Colin Wood, managing editor, StateScoop & EdSoop

Things to listen for:

  • Goulet says he spends a lot of time evangelizing for the “customer service ethic.”
  • Collins explains his solution to the “virtually impossible” challenge of modernizing everything at once.
  • Goulet gives his strategy for overcoming “information tree-hugging.”
  • Collins retraces his state’s path to its current digital government strategy.
  • Goulet and Collins both explain why being centralized has been beneficial to digital-government efforts.

Produced in partnership with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, Priorities dives deep into each of the top 10 priorities of state CIOs outlined in NASCIO’s annual list

Listen to archive episode of Priorities from Season 4 (2019), Season 3 (2018), Season 2 (2017) and Season 1 (2016). Priorities is also available on iTunes.