What You Can Learn from The State of New York

The state of New York has a lot going for it— the City, the Adirondacks, the Yankees, Genesee beer, and Niagara Falls just to name a few. Perhaps even better is that it’s state IT department is working tirelessly to modernize IT practices to improve processes for citizens. For this week’s, State and Local Spotlight GovLoop’s Emily Jarvis sat down with one of New York’s IT leaders who is working to implement these modernization practices.

Mahesh Nattanmai, Executive Chief Information Officer at the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, revealed three main themes of IT modernization in his state:

2017 Priorities:

New York started their transformation process about four years ago. In 2012, the state got legislative approval to create a single entity, which led to the inception of the New York State Office of Information Technology Services. “This office is headed by the state CIO and we run the whole stack from server, network, email, phones, all the way to application development,” Nattanmai explained.

While they have made progress since the initial consolidation, Nattanmai emphasized that they want to focus on further consolidation going into 2017. “Much of infrastructure consolidation starts and works towards improving the citizen experience, which means we want to represent New York State as a single state as opposed to 50 or so entities,” he said. Specifically, they are working on consolidation exercises to take their current portfolio of 5,000 applications and identify commonalities so that many of these applications can be merged.

Barriers to Progress:

Similar to other states, Nattanmai stressed the challenge of resource retention. “At the state level it is very hard to recruit high caliber people at the same rate as we are losing employees to retirement,” he explained. Additionally, they are hitting roadblocks with procurement processes. As IT changes and becomes less of a commodity, governments have to prepare to cope with IT services being measured in completely different ways.

However, Nattanmai and his team are no stranger to overcoming barriers. With the initial consolidation efforts, the state was exploring ways to streamline business processes and promote efficiencies. The Lean Program, an enterprise approach to processes, was Governor Cuomo’s answer to this. Nattanmai has worked closely with the Governor’s office to bring in Lean champions from other state agencies to consolidate IT business practices and reduce inefficient redundancies in the department.

Bracing for the Silver Tsunami:

Nattanmai is also taking an innovative approach to preparing for the wave of employees set to retire in the coming years. Particularly, he is working towards removing the overhead of state employees managing contractors and making the process performance based instead. Additionally, he is working towards building up the state workforce with a focus on training and bringing millennials into the workforce. “We are starting to actively look into internship programs and working with local colleges to bring in talent that we are hoping to retain,” he explained. “This will give us a good mix and help us achieve our ultimate goal of focusing on our citizens and providing them with what they need in the long term.”

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