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Letter from the State CIO

Michael Cockrill, March 2015

If it’s true that The Strategic Plan is Dead—a phrase that delivers more than 11,000 responses when Googled—then the strategic information technology (IT) plan is in serious trouble. In a world where Internet time has amped up to a universal heart rate of more than 8,000 tweets per second, strategic IT plans risk flailing like zombies trying to reanimate every couple of years. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to plan. But it might make sense to reimagine how we do it.

Washington State law mandates the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) prepare and lead the implementation of a strategic direction for IT in state government. That’s one solid reason we need to plan. Here’s another. The 2014 Digital States Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government gave Washington state IT an overall grade of B+, up from C- in 2012. While headed in the right direction, we know we can do better. We are Washington, after all, the technology state. We should do better. And given the security concerns any government faces, we must do better.

Instead of a traditional state strategic plan that attempts to figure out IT for the next half decade, this is a streamlined yet ambitious framework. It is intended to unify our state’s technology vision, set strategic priorities and to engage our state IT community in a future-ready trajectory. With this framework, the OCIO commits to greater transparency and accountability. As stewards of state IT, the OCIO takes ownership of a set of strategies that the office will enact to help agencies succeed.

In collaboration with the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the agencies we serve, the OCIO has built a solid foundation for this framework. For example, the Modernization of Legacy IT Systems Report gives detailed views into the enterprise-wide problem of legacy systems. The rigorous OCIO process for prioritizing IT budget requests fosters stakeholder engagement in decision making. That process along with the Agency IT Budget Detail and the Major IT Investment Summary Report provide deep views into the state IT spend. The OCIO's IT security policies and work with the State Auditor's Office (SAO) on the Security Performance Audit (produced by the SAO) drives durable security practices and fosters a necessarily strong security agenda. These and other bedrock works represented in the appendices provide the footings of this framework.

While we dream about perfection, we’re aiming for swift, incremental improvements. This framework is an experiment, one that we think is a leaner, more nimble way to work. I look forward to building on our success, to improving the public experience of Washington State services through the use of technology and to working with the great people in this state who make IT happen.