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How North Carolina is linking up data across the state

On this week’s Priorities podcast, North Carolina’s chief data officer shares her state’s “journey” developing an enterprisewide algorithm that’s helping to unify data efforts.

North Carolina Chief Data Officer Carol Burroughs shares with StateScoop how NC eLink, which manages the IDs of those using data from various state and federal agencies, went from just an idea to a proof-of-concept with 10 agencies integrating more than 50 systems. Now the growing project, which was recognized this month by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, is attracting wider interest across the state government.

The project aimed to defragment a “vast” amount of user data stored across dozens of agencies and hundreds of IT systems. Through the North Carolina Government Data Analytics Center, which she leads, Burroughs said the state is managing to link disparate data and provide participating agencies with unique IDs, while also resolving conflicting and overlapping data points.

Burroughs says before moving to a wider rollout, the state “started small,” using the system to aid in fraud monitoring when during the COVID-19 pandemic state employees’ identities were being stolen and used to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Then the state began looking at “whole person” health care and other citizen services, she says.

“We had built it scalable to begin with because we knew we were getting requests for different analytic modeling and we just built it out organically as more requests came in. Now we’re adding on levels of APIs to allow our agencies to do the matching,” she says.

Later on the podcast, Mark Smith, the chief information officer at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, explains how replacing a paper-based internal process for requesting system access with a digital one is reducing errors and saving time.

“By creating the digital version of this process, we’re able to include validations and ensure that when the hiring manager approved it or further down the line the people approving the authorization, they were completing all the steps they needed to and it really helped reduce that back-and-forth because of unintentional errors on the authorizations,” Smith says.

In the news this week:

New York state hired its first chief customer experience officer. Tonya Webster will be the first governor-appointed chief customer experience officer in the country. She comes to the role after more than 20 years in the private sector, including time at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Comcast NBCUniversal.

Philadelphia officials say they were hit by a cyberattack in May and that the malicious actors may have accessed the personal and health data of city employees through their email accounts. They became aware of “suspicious activity” in city email systems in May and determined that an unauthorized actor may have gained access to certain city email accounts between May 26 and July 28.

The nonprofit civic tech group U.S. Digital Response is leading a new initiative to assist state and local government agencies hire and retain staff with digital skills. The group plans to build on previous efforts its undergone in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Indiana. 

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.