Pre-pandemic foundations were essential to counties’ tech success

County government technology leaders’ efforts to establish solid technological infrastructure before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic proved essential in their attempts to deliver government services digitally, winners of the 2020 LocalSmart Awards say.

The leaders, who are featured on the latest episode of the LocalSmart Awards podcast, say that modernization and infrastructure efforts, paired with the hard work of their agencies, kept services up and running under unprecedented demand — and made it easier to transition in-person processes to an online environment.

“We’re glad that we had the basic infrastructure foundation that we set in place,” Sri Karra, the chief information officer of Jefferson County, Alabama, says on the podcast. “Because that enabled our team to really step up and act really quickly in engaging every aspect of the county operations and bring them virtual.”

San Joaquin County, California, CIO Chris Cruz says the technology foundation he and his team had built enabled them to move more than 5,000 employees to telework in a matter of days.

“When the pandemic hit, within four or five days we were able to move 5,000 employees out to full-time telework,” Cruz says. “Having virtual private networks in place, and having endpoint security and endpoint management really helped us to facilitate that change rather quickly.”

Tom Lynch, the CIO of Cook County, Illinois, says his government had already installed Microsoft Teams and Cisco’s WebEx in place before the pandemic hit.

“Being able to then move to remote work was more of a change management exercise than a technology exercise for us,” Lynch said. “But generally speaking, I think folks were responsive to the shift.”

On the podcast:

  • Sri Karra, CIO, Jefferson County, Alabama
  • Chris Cruz, CIO, San Joaquin County, California
  • Maria Walls, treasurer, Beaufort County, South Carolina
  • Tom Lynch, CIO, Cook County, Illinois
  • Richard McHattie, chief of innovation and technology, Maricopa County, Arizona, Clerk of the Superior Court
  • Nadia Hansen, CIO, Clark County, Nevada
  • Wanda Gibson, CIO, Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • Todd Shanley, CIO, Cabarrus County, North Carolina

The LocalSmart podcast is a five-part miniseries highlighting the winners of the 2020 LocalSmart Awards.

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