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IT Leaders, State Projects Recognized as ‘Best of California’

The Best of California Awards during the California Virtual Digital Government Summit acknowledged high-achieving state IT officials and significant recent IT projects.

Recognizing excellence in technology is a cornerstone of the annual California Virtual Digital Government Summit, via the Best of California Awards event.

Several state entities and IT leaders received well-deserved recognition Tuesday from Government Technology*, the virtual summit host, for projects and solutions aimed at keeping residents safe, improving their online government experience – and making state IT more efficient and effective. The awards were presented by Alan Cox, publisher of Government Technology* and executive vice president of parent company e.Republic. The categories, projects and winners are:

Excellence in Project Management is an award given to a staff manager who showed great skill and leadership in shepherding a technology-related project to completion during the last year. Marc Grijalva from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) was recognized for helping the entity quickly shift to emergency telework as the pandemic took hold. The leader of CDFA’s Project Management Office, Grijalva wielded collaboration tools and offered staffers the guidance and training they needed to stay in step on projects. Nava Nadarajah from Covered California was recognized for coordinating his entity’s smooth transition from on-prem to the cloud for the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System.

Best Application Serving an Agency’s Business Needs is an award given to people or teams that have designed, developed and deployed new applications or improved existing ones that assist an entity in its day-to-day operations. Here, the project recognized was REAL ID Automated Document Verification, at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Using artificial intelligence to validate and verify electronic REAL ID applications and documents meant DMV only had to involve staffers to scrutinize any exceptions. The technology has already saved the equivalent of 25 full-time employees per month.

Best Application Serving the Public is given to teams that have designed, developed and deployed applications or improved existing ones that make it possible to deliver services more effectively to the public or external stakeholders. Here, the project recognized was the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record Portal, and the state entity was the California Department of Technology (CDT). The initiative created an official, digital alternative to paper records, and it has become quite popular, with more than 1 million digital records being issued within 12 days of the launch.

Best Workforce/Workplace Initiative acknowledges innovative programs, strategies, policies, reorganizations or applications of technology that lead to enhanced productivity, flexibility, training, recruitment, retention or job satisfaction. Two initiatives received this award. The Human Capital Management Project, from Covered California, automated and streamlined the entity’s human resources-related business processes, including timekeeping, org chart management and reporting and analytics — making a big impact on internal operations. The Chrome Summary – Paper Reduction via Augmented Digital Experience project from the California Department of Motor Vehicles lets DMV customers review finished driver’s license and ID card applications via Chrome tablets in field offices, and to digitally attest to the information’s accuracy. This should save 30,000 staff hours and 20 million pieces of paper annually.

Best IT Collaboration recognizes the innovative and collaborative use of IT in ways that cross boundaries in support of common business processes, sharing data, creating a culture of knowledge-sharing, or enhancing public services, or promoting innovative partnership programs. Here, the My Turn Volunteer COVID-19 vaccination system was acknowledged, and the four entities that collaborated on it: the California Department of Technology, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the San Diego County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The My Turn system helped California pivot on vaccine distribution and rise to having now delivered more vaccines than any other state. CDT and CDPH worked intensely on bringing the system from concept to go-live in just two weeks; San Diego and Los Angeles counties served as product managers, engaging jurisdictions around the state.

Innovative Use of Data Analytics recognizes the innovative use of technology and strategic methodology to analyze structured and/or unstructured data sources and extract significant results. Here, the Mitigation, Reduction or Elimination of Wildfire Risk project was recognized and the entity behind it was the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). With this project, CAL FIRE was able to bring AI-enabled technology to bear on vital data-driven decision-making and on-demand prediction of fire spread prediction.

*Government Technology magazine is a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Techwire.