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CIOs Talk Shop About Technology Challenges, IT Procurement

In recent “One-on-One” interviews, chief information officers from two state agencies and two cities shared some of the technology challenges they have faced, along with their thoughts on IT procurement.

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From recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce to advancing cybersecurity and providing quick digital services, these are just a few challenges chief information officers at the state and city level have recently faced.

Glendora Fortune, chief information officer for the Florida Department of Transportation, said during a “One-on-One” interview with Industry Insider — Florida: “I believe our greatest technology challenge is the ability to recruit and retain a skilled IT workforce. The demand for technology workers is not slowing. Add to that the requirement to be agile enough to add new services when needed, and it feels like an uphill battle to continue to find resources. To maintain our current systems and platforms, we must retain current skill sets, and to leverage new technologies, we must recruit new talent and train current staff to take on new roles. Even with our large emphasis on recruiting new talent and retaining existing talent, we still struggle at times to fill key vacancies. Without enough appropriately skilled staff, no matter how great the technology is, our success will have limitations.”

Tampa’s CIO, Russell Haupert, echoed a similar message: “Challenges tend to vary with organizations, but right now for government, it’s funding, finding, training and retaining our technology workforce.”

While Ruth Lang, CIO for the Florida Department of Corrections, highlighted different challenges altogether: “In Florida, the greatest technology challenge is striking a delicate balance between advancing cybersecurity measures and the swift pace of digital service delivery. The state faces the complex task of modernizing outdated systems, a process that demands meticulous planning and execution. Concurrently, there’s a pressing need to integrate artificial intelligence into these systems and practices. This integration is not just about technological upgradation but also involves addressing the ethical, privacy and security concerns associated with AI. Ensuring that these evolving systems are robust, secure and capable of meeting the increasing demands of digital services while incorporating AI in a responsible and effective manner represents a significant and multifaceted challenge for the region.”

For Orlando’s CIO, though, workforce challenges remained top of mind: “Industrywide, it can be challenging to attract and retain highly skilled technology subject matter experts,” said Rosa Akhtarkhavari.

As for IT procurement, streamlining processes was a recurring theme.

For example, Haupert said, “I’m always looking for a process that appropriately balances speed, transparency, equity and cost. In general, it’s great when the time to fund, approve and select a new system takes significantly less time than implementing them.”

Lang shared a similar message: “I would advocate for more streamlined and flexible procurement processes to quickly adapt to technological advancements.”

Meanwhile, Orlando and FDOT’s CIOs are happy with how their organizations handle IT procurement.

For example, Fortune said, “Working with our technology and department procurement teams is great. They make it as easy as possible within the confines of procurement rules.”

Akhtarkhavari said something similar: “The city of Orlando’s IT procurement and legal team has a strong partnership that enables us to identify the best options for IT procurement and contracts. We work as a team to identify possible areas of improvement and implement changes to our processes and approaches as needed.”

To learn more about these CIOs, check out Industry Insider — Florida’s one-on-one interviews online.
Katya Diaz is an Orlando-based e.Republic staff writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.