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‘Vendors Play a Critical Role’ in City’s Success, Says L.A. CIO

Chief Information Officer Ted Ross said he and his 450 IT staffers rely on the private sector to help them innovate and find new ways to use technology internally as well as to serve the public. Ross gave this and other insights during a recent video briefing with e.Republic.

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The technology leader for the nation’s second-largest city has some valuable insights — and advice — for those who sell tech to the public sector.

Ted Ross
Ted Ross
In a brisk 31-minute video briefing, the chief information officer for the city of Los Angeles, Ted Ross, spoke recently with e.Republic’s deputy chief innovation officer, Joe Morris, about what’s on his mind and what’s on his plate — which is a large one, given his annual operating budget of $105 million.

Some brief takeaways from the video conversation with Ross:
  • “Scalable platforms,” not products, are the preferred solution as the city continues to mature its systems. As an example, Ross said the city tech staff initially used the ServiceNow platform internally, and as city employees became more familiar with it, they developed new uses for it in other parts of municipal government. Now, it’s one of the the tools powering the city’s 311 system, among others. Salesforce is another platform for which the city is developing new uses, particularly as it prepares to host the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics.
  • With Mayor Karen Bass having been in office only since December, Ross and the 450 technologists he leads as general manager of the city IT agency aren’t starting any sweeping new initiatives; rather, they’re poised to act on the tech-related strategies and tactics she puts forward as she settles into the job.
  • The city, like many entities in the public and private sectors, remains concerned and vigilant in the area of cybersecurity as more instances of ransomware and other cyber attacks make headlines.
  • Generative artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, are going to be increasingly ingrained in the business of government, and there’s no reason to pause their development. But, Ross said, ethics and fairness must remain part of the equation. Growing public awareness of such AI tools, and their increasing adoption in government and commerce, make the issue “much more personal now” for many people.
  • Similarly, he said, robotic process automation and blockchain are tools that have a place in Los Angeles municipal government. While some expect the city’s technology offerings to be “the latest and greatest,” Ross said, governments large and small are inherently risk-averse and don’t like to get too far in front of the field on any one initiative.

“Vendors play a critical role” in government, Ross said — and for those seeking to do business with the city, registering with the Regional Alliance Marketplace for Procurement (RAMPLA) is an essential first step.
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.