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L.A. CIO to Technologists: Help Write the Conclusion to the COVID-19 Novel

Ted Ross praised government technologists for adapting to the initial pandemic crisis and working through the transformation to a hybrid workforce. He said it’s now time to lay the foundation for the next 10 years in digital services.

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The technology leader for the nation’s second-largest city has a message for his colleagues in government technology: The COVID-19 pandemic is like a novel, and you’re helping write the final chapter.

Ted Ross, chief information officer for the city of Los Angeles, offered that analogy in remarks at the recent Los Angeles Digital Government Summit, where he was among dozens of public- and private-sector tech leaders who presented on topics in breakout as well as general sessions. The DGS was presented by Government Technology.*
Ted Ross
Ted Ross

Ross, who’s been CIO for almost eight of his 19 years with the city, oversees a department with 455 employees and a $125 million annual budget, responsible for delivering enterprise IT services to 52,000 employees across 45 city departments and digital services to more than 4 million residents.

“I honestly believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is very much like a novel, with chapters,” Ross said. “In the beginning of COVID-19, the chapters were action-packed. We had teleworkers, COVID response, economic crisis, COVID recovery. You were really never sure if the characters in the novel were up to the challenge. But we worked.”

Ross continued: “Then you move to the middle chapters of the novel, right? Less action, but much more a test of endurance: Zoom fatigue, life choices, uncertainty as to where this would all go. …

“Now, by most accounts,” Ross said, “the thick of the pandemic is behind us, while still ever-present. We are clearly establishing now what the new normal will be. The novel is still not finished.”

He directly addressed the technologists and vendors at the conference: “It is still up to us — each of us — to work together to write the final chapters. And nowhere is this more evident than in our world — the world of government technology. We are honestly at a crucial time in our history. Over this next year, I believe the foundations will be laid, and we’ll see them laid, for what the next decade will be like.”

He said the coming year will yield a “robust foundation” of hybrid telework, optimized digital services for the public, and “a stabilizing of the Great Resignation.”

Ross, who has been optimistic about gov tech’s durability since the pandemic’s early days, said L.A. city government is “leaning into this next year,” including the modernization of legacy technology and a transformation of the “value proposition” of what it means to work for the city of Los Angeles. And he pointed vendors and industry to the city’s procurement portal, Los Angeles Regional Alliance Marketplace for Procurement (RAMP), where the city posts vendor opportunities.

He also said the city is well underway in its preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympics, which it will host.

“Our residents and our stakeholders demand effective and easy-to-use digital services, and I believe that we will see leaps and bounds in this area over the next year.

“If the pandemic is really like a novel,” he said, “then you are in the right place to acquire the skills and the knowledge necessary to finish this book strong. It really does start here, at the Los Angeles Digital Government Summit.”

*Government Technology and Industry Insider — California are part of e.Republic.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.