Advancing multi-vendor IT model tops priorities, Virginia CIO says

Within every state government, there are technology officials balancing the interplay of people, processes and technology. Virginia is currently updating all three.

In a recent video interview with StateScoop, Virginia Chief Information Officer Nelson Moe says the top priority of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, the state’s enterprise technology services provider, is to improve the governance and accountability involved with its new multi-supplier IT model

The new model, which has been in development for about one year, allows the state to use the services of a variety of vendors and adopt new technologies more quickly and affordably, Moe says, compared to what was available through its former $2.4 billion sole-provider agreement with Northrop Grumman.

“We just finished getting through the initial phases of rolling out our integrator model, our multi-supplier model. And so we’re going to to take the next couple months to help mature it and add more services as we go along,” Moe says in the interview.

Improving oversight of the state’s vendors was a key recommendation made by auditors in October after the state legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found “VITA staff did not begin tracking whether suppliers had completed many contract deliverables until eight months after the contracts started.”

After the audit was published, Moe told StateScoop that while he agreed with the auditors’ findings, it’s also common for a state to take as long as two years to feel proficient with a sourcing model that uses more than one vendor after having only one supplier for so many years. He pointed to similar approaches to IT service delivery in Texas and Georgia as precedents for that timeframe.

Adopting the new model has required Moe to take on new responsibilities, managing vendors and agency relationships more closely. To help take on some of his old tasks, Moe earlier this year hired a chief operating officer. His office is also now rounding out its staff to handle management of the state’s multi-vendor model and to assist migration of the VITA’s data center, which is being moved from a facility in Chester to one Richmond.

“That’s big for us because it minimizes our spend,” Moe says.

Moe on election security:

“We treat election security very importantly. We’ve been working with our federal partners, also our agency partners, State Police and Department of Homeland Security to make sure we have a very secure and safe election.”

Moe on data and analytics:

“For data analytics, that’s an important aspect for us because we’re going to make data-driven decisions within my particular agency going forward. … Our chief data officer, Carlos Riviera, he’s setting up the governance structure, the frameworks and the sharing agreements for data in the commonwealth.”

Moe on how he sees his role changing in the future:

“What we’ve done with the organization set-up is to set up the role so the CIO can be more of a communicator, an advocate for the model and be able to express the value of IT for the stakeholders outside of the agency.”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2019.