How Can TBM Improve State Government IT?

Discussion created by dpuckett on May 18, 2019

As I'm prepping materials for our workshop, I was inspired by a post from Todd Tucker in the healthcare workgroup. I'm going to recycle his format and general content. I hope this can get all of our juices flowing as we start this important work. 


In preparation for kicking off the Council's state government workgroup, I wanted to reflect on some of the unique challenges that we face in state government. As civil servants, our work must remain apolitical and cross administrations and competing priorities. While working in public service may not always be easy, it is certainly rewarding. The services we provide to citizens and enable through technology are valuable to the lives of the citizens of all of our states. While the work is rewarding, the challenges we face are real. I'm hoping that we can, as a group, explore how TBM might help address those challenges.


As we prepare to get started, I wanted to share a few thoughts on some challenges that I'm aware of and that we currently face in Washington, and start a conversation on how TBM might help us address some of these challenges and any others we may be facing:


  • Limitless Demand, Limited Resources: As our world continues to change and evolve, the appetite for more services delivered through technology grows. Additionally, the populations that we serve continue to grow, and their expectations for government services delivered through technology are shaped by the private sector. Contrasting this, the resources needed to develop and build these services must compete with infrastructure projects, healthcare services, education funding, and other legislative priorities. On the face of it, a choice to fund technology projects over some of these other initiatives may seem nonsensical. Additionally, our great challenge is that our service offerings must be able to serve everyone. In the private sector, if your service can reach 65% of a market, you're an industry power player. In government, if we only serve 65%, we're leaving 35% of our citizens behind. Nevertheless, the need for technology investment remains high, unless the state will continue to fall further behind our private sector peers.
    • Question: How do you think TBM can help you communicate IT needs to the authorizing environment? Can TBM help you optimize the cost of delivering services in order to identify resources for other investment priorities? 
  • Business Transformation/Modernization: When we think about services and their delivery through technology, at least in Washington, the profile skews heavily towards legacy system. The state continues to grapple with deferred maintenance and technical debt, which manifests itself throughout our technology portfolio. As the state gears up to address this challenge head on, it is being accomplished more and more through business transformation initiatives. These typically manifest through large programs, staffed with both business and technology partners spanning multiple years. Given our funding model and limited resources, there is a heightened sense of scrutiny on  understanding the cost of these projects. 
    • Question: How can we use TBM to manage our IT portfolios? What can TBM do to support our business transformation initiatives? How can we clearly articulate portfolio goals using TBM?
  • Data Security and Privacy: Security and privacy are often brought up by our private sector peers. The lens these are viewed through is often focused on regulatory compliance and a desire to avoid fines and other repercussions.Our private sector peers grapple with how to comply with GDPR and other regulatory requirements. However, the data privacy and security needs are much different in a government environment. Citizens have entrusted us with their private data, and it is our duty to protect that information. We have to balance this need for privacy with our open government requirements and desire to publish open data for our citizens. Ensuring that we publish data that is appropriate and protect data that should remain private is crucial to our work in state government.
    • Question: How can we use TBM to improve our understanding of security and privacy investments? Where does government's unique privacy requirements fit in to the taxonomy? If so, how?
  • Emerging Technology: Due to government's unique funding model, it can be challenging to stay on the bleeding edge. The government must strive to stay current in technology, but our ability to pivot to emerging technologies is challenging given our funding model. When we are able to receive funding to adopt emerging technology, by the time we implement it, it can already be on its way to being outdated. Additionally, betting on the wrong emerging technology can greatly hamper the government due to how long it can take us to pivot. As private industry continues to innovate at breakneck clip, the government must find a way to keep its technology innovations sustainable.
    • Question: In what ways is your state adopting emerging technology (cloud, AI, IOT, etc)? If so, how are you using/could you use TBM to govern adoption?


These are just a few areas for us to consider in our discussions as a workgroup. I'd love to hear what other major challenges you're seeing for today's state government IT leaders and how you think TBM can help. I'm looking forward to starting this work with you all.


In service,