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AI, Mobile Driver’s License and More: 2023’s Top 5 Articles

Chock-a-block with procurements, IT executives joining and leaving state and local government, and everyone greatly abuzz about artificial intelligence, 2023 was a year to remember in California gov tech. These were its most significant issues.

Artificial Intelligence
If we remember 2023 for anything, it will likely be as the year AI came to the fore.

But of course, in California government IT, that was only part of the story in a year that saw executive comings and goings galore, a healthy slate of state and local procurements — and lawmakers bridge one budget chasm only to have another emerge late in the game. Accordingly, these are my picks for the year’s five most noteworthy articles/issues:

  • Artificial intelligence and generative AI: We’ve covered the rise and popularity of AI and GenAI elsewhere recently, but on Nov. 21, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration released a report laying out several potential use cases for, and risks of, GenAI. The report, from the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps), offers six “beneficial use cases for GenAI in state government” and eight areas of risk. It follows Newsom’s Executive Order N-12-23, signed Sept. 6, calling on GovOps, the Department of Technology (CDT), the Office of Data and Innovation, and the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development to work with other state entities in drafting a report “examining the most significant, potentially beneficial use cases for deployment of GenAI tools by the state” — and risks.
  • Mobile driver’s license pilot: The California Department of Motor Vehicles has been at work on mDL for years, but in September, its pilot program expanded availability to an estimated 1.5 million to 1.7 million residents. With mDL now accepted at select convenience stores and three airports, those numbers are expected to grow as well. The expansion was preceded by availability of the California DMV Wallet, a department-created app that opens via facial ID and holds the mDL. As Chief Digital Transformation Officer Ajay Gupta and SpruceID co-founder and CEO Wayne Chang said during a recent webinar, the initiative is still in early stages and could yield additional opportunities for the private sector; it’s already a tremendous milestone on the state’s journey to digital ID. (DMV partner SpruceID is among the many companies working with DMV; it assisted the department in building the app.)
  • State work on broadband continues apace: In July, with nearly $4 billion in funding at the ready, construction on middle-mile broadband was ready to pick up, officials from CDT and the California Department of Transportation told members of the Middle-Mile Advisory Committee at a meeting. CDT had learned June 16 that it had received a $73 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, bringing total funding available to $3.87 billion. But middle-mile network miles had risen from 8,000-8,100 to 10,000 — and construction bids for roughly half the network had come back 40 percent higher than expected.
  • State gains top tech exec: About six months after Jonathan Porat became the state’s chief technology innovation officer, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him the state’s chief technology officer. The governor’s office made the announcement June 29; both roles are located at CDT. Before joining the state, Porat had been technology client engagement manager at the city of Seattle from May 2018-December 2022, leading the city’s technology client service, enterprise architecture and portfolio management teams. In an August One-on-One interview with Industry Insider, Porat said he’s motivated by “doing what I can to have the most impact on the largest number of people,” adding: “But really, the way that you can make the biggest difference in the lives of Californians is by working at the state and being able to drive policy, technology and user experiences directly for our residents.”
  • CDT criticized in Auditor’s report: The California State Auditor issued a report April 20 criticizing the Department of Technology for failing to guide the state’s IT needs, failing to assess the information security systems of state agencies, and failing to reduce risks to IT projects. Undertaking by State Auditor Grant Parks’ department at direction of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the audit was addressed to Newsom, the state Senate president and the Assembly speaker; it addressed CDT’s oversight of IT projects and the state’s safeguards against cybersecurity threats. In a statement to Industry Insider, state CIO Liana Bailey-Crimmins, who is CDT director, said in part: “CDT stands on its record of success — and stands behind the thousands of state IT professionals who helped California lead the nation in pandemic response. CDT appreciates the State Auditor’s comments and its ongoing efforts to provide transparency into the workings of state government operations. We will continue to implement improvements as we advise and oversee statewide information technology and security for the fourth largest economy in the world.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.