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New York rethinks digital services as the pandemic wanes

On this week’s episode of the Priorities podcast, New York Chief Technology Officer Rajiv Rao says he’s taking what the state learned about digital services during the pandemic as a lesson for the future. 

“There is an expectation now that digital services are here to say,” Rao says. “For the most part, everybody’s taking a strong hard look at options to change how we deliver the services, how we reduce friction in that space so that citizens are able to leverage these services through digital channels.”

Rao says the state’s work on its vaccine app, Excelsior Pass, showed how data and identity in digital services will be important in the future.

The National Association of State CIOs this week named Rao as its 2022 Technology Champion. The award recognizes an individual who “furthers NASCIO’s vision of a government in which the public is fully served through the efficient and effective use of technology.”  NASCIO credited Rao’s work on Excelsior Pass and other digital services during the pandemic as part of his “unparalleled work ethic.”

Massachusetts CIO Curtis Wood tells StateScoop his state has opportunities to continue momentum around IT modernization initiated during the pandemic. He says his department has seen increased productivity and customer satisfaction and he’s highly motivated to keep that momentum going.

In the news this week:

New data from NASCIO shows that only 45% of states have a strategy to modernize their application portfolios. Pennsylvania CIO John MacMillan says states are challenged in managing their application portfolios by a shortage of staff who know how to code in legacy programming languages.

Analysts at the MissionSquare Research Institute say many public-sector workers continue to feel burned out by the COVID-19 crisis. Forty-four percent of public sector workers report feelings of stress. Michigan CIO Laura Clark says she’s offering more-flexible work arrangements in response. Washington state CIO Bill Kehoe says he’s encouraging staff to take time off.

State CIOs say smaller-dollar projects can be just as influential as big ones. Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes shares examples at NASCIO’s midyear conference this week of cases where smaller projects and tweaks to operations had outsized effects.

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

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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.