Ushering Technological Transformation in the Public Sector
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Ushering Technological Transformation in the Public Sector

Sallie Wright, CIO, Fulton County Government
Sallie Wright, CIO, Fulton County Government

Sallie Wright, CIO, Fulton County Government

The Mission

Fulton County is driven by the mission to deliver efficient and cost-effective services for its citizens. With information technology promising better quality and higher responsiveness of public services, the County is striving to deliver services through digital channels. As the CIO of Fulton County Government IT Department, my focus is on three major initiatives: 1) deliver greater public service through digital avenues, 2) bring more businesses to the County, and 3) streamline the back-end processes of the government.

Challenges confronting the adoption of technological solution

As government organizations are often slow to adopt advanced IT solutions, there are not many IT providers catering to the sector’s specialized needs, which create limited software options for the public community. Such constraints present a serious challenge for the strengthening of administrative processes. Another technological problem faced by the sector is the unequal growth and resources across County department lines, causing more difficulties to streamline the technological solutions across the units.

Business acumen inadopting the right solution

With government agencies still in the initial stages of IT adoption, it is an imperative for the government CIOs to have business acumen. Having worked for the Fortune 100 and the higher education sector, I find that the government agencies still have opportunities to greatly enhance IT implementation. To adopt an effective technological solution, it is crucial to comprehend the prevailing problem and develop a clear understanding of what works for the government sector.

  My primary focus while adopting a technological solution is to primarily understand the problem that we are trying to solve  

Significance of data analytics in ad­dressing key issues

Data analytics have gained increasing interest within public institutions across the nation. After researching the benefits of data analytics, I realized that the government can also leverage data to derive great insights. We at the County are moving in this direction. With data analytics playing a significant role in the areas such as attracting businesses and the distribution and efficient use of resources, we are also looking forward to implementing more data analytics for the jail population, especially the women. We are interested in analyzing the impact of imprisonment on the children of the convicted women. Thorough analysis can help us deduce whether the impact on the children and the need for future social programs, including behavioral health and other services.

As a CIO, my prime focus while adopting a technological solution is to understand the problem that I am trying to solve. Considering the problems encountered, we have piloted a number of solutions and implemented tools provided by Esri (provider of mapping and geospatial data analytics technology) to solve issues concerning open data and data transparency. We have also acquired licenses for a vendor which provides detailed insights on the movements of the American population by using de-identified information. We intend to use these solutions to draw analysis around potential cyber threats and other risks.

Streamlining the process of technological transformation

An important requirement to streamline for the digital transformation is defining the suitable vendor partners. It is important to research a number of solution offerings in order to adopt the most effective one. Many suppliers base services on defined citizen moments; however, we have also worked with a vendor who looks more broadly at citizen journeys (which define every interaction a citizen may experience in receiving a government service). The solution features a detailed record of the multiple steps required to complete a particular task. Additional examples may include the number of steps to obtain a marriage license or to get a bank account separated. By incorporating such solutions, we intend to address specific persistent issues faced by citizens and provide more efficient services. Another important step in the process of streamlining digital transformation is the ability to recognize the value of the offerings. We are striving to circumvent ineffective solutions and avert inefficient use of tax payers’ dollars.

Finding the right workforce

Due to funding levels, local government agencies find it difficult to recruit talented individuals with high technological expertise. On the other hand, young people struggle with the dilemma between jobs offering high pay versus jobs that bring greater value to the society. Keeping this in mind, I recruit people who retire at an early age, for these individuals are looking for something that makes them feel good about the job they perform. Because Fulton Government Agency is located within a few blocks of Georgia State University and close by to other colleges, we are able to recruit young talent who are driven by the noble idea of serving the people.

Generating Businesses in the County

Business profitability is an important aspect of government functions and Fulton County has not taken this task lightly. The partnership of Movie and IT industry has yielded significant outcomes through job creation in the County; hence, the County is planning to emphasize this development to draw more businesses.

Considering the multiple layers of governing organizations that are involved in the management of the cities, it usually results in companies finding it difficult to do business with the government. Taking this into consideration, I formed a peer group comprised of the CIOs across the metro Atlanta region. We formed a strong coalition to discuss ideas, policies and procedures every quarter. The peer groups since have played a significant role in the conception and implementation of programs such as Smart Communities and Metro Atlanta Information Security Coalition, making it possible for the city, County and state to come together and make a real difference.

As Fulton County moves ahead with digital transformation, my suggestion to CIOs is to provide a keen ear to the customers’ needs, which I believe will yield greater value by enabling better services to the people.

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