• Priorities Podcast

Michigan’s new cyber chief says ‘breadth of vision’ guides state’s cyber program

On this week’s Priorities podcast, Jayson Cavendish, Michigan’s new chief security officer, shares how he got started in information security and how drawing on a broad range of professional experiences is helping him build a comprehensive cyber strategy.

Cavendish, formerly the state’s deputy CSO, was appointed in June to oversee the cybersecurity efforts from under Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management & Budget. He says he “accidentally” got into information management and system development while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Cavendish moved into the private sector, where he worked on public safety software systems for an IT services provider, and eventually landed in security management. He joined the Michigan state government in 2018 as a senior security architect.

“I was able to, many times, throughout all those different roles to catch the vision of the organization and understand where they were trying to go. And very quickly tried to adapt and figure out what changes we needed to make and be the catalyst for that change to get us to those new heights that we were trying to reach,” Cavendish says.

He says his top priorities are bolstering the state’s cybersecurity workforce, bettering its zero-trust architecture and scaling up DevSecOps and password-less access.

In the news this week:

The civic tech nonprofit Code for America announced it’s eliminating 35 staff positions and making major changes to its strategy. The changes include using “cutting-edge technologies” for its projects and refining its financial and staffing models in the face of decreasing revenue. The announcement comes amid negotiations between the group’s management and its union, which have in recent months inched contentiously toward resolution. Negotiations are not yet finalized, the group says.

The New York City Police Department used drones to monitor “large backyard parties” over the Labor Day weekend, drawing ire from privacy activists. The New York Civil Liberties Union is criticizing the policy, calling the practice discriminatory and potentially unconstitutional. New York City Mayor Eric Adams says that while the NYPD currently lags behind other police departments on its “drones as a first responder” program, the city will become a leader in the technology.

Dave Fletcher, Utah’s longtime chief technology officer, is retiring after serving nearly 20 years in the role. Fletcher oversaw the state’s digital government initiatives, coordinated the introduction of emerging technology and the state’s technical architecture program. Next month, Chris Williamson, CIO of Myriad Genetics, takes over as Utah’s new CTO, continuing Fletcher’s work, including developing the state’s citizen services portal.

StateScoop’s Priorities podcast is available every Thursday. Listen more here.

If you want to hear more of the latest across the state and local government technology community, subscribe to the Priorities Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Soundcloud and Spotify.

Priorities Podcast


Each week, the Priorities Podcast will take you through the latest in state and local government technology news and analysis. The program will explore trending stories throughout the week, as well as feature conversations with top executives across government and industry on things like modernization, emerging technology and digital services.

Hosted by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is the vice president of content and community for StateScoop and EdScoop. He's spent nearly a decade in the government IT market, covering the ins and outs of state and local government, as well as higher education. He started his journalism career in his native Pennsylvania and has also worked as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections magazine.