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FDOT CIO: ‘I Believe We Have Made Great Strides Toward a Digital Transformation'

As part of Industry Insider — Florida’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT leaders.

Glendora Fortune is the chief information officer for the Florida Department of Transportation. She started in the position in June after serving as CIO for the Office of Legislative Information Technology Services; before that she worked for the Department of Transportation since 2012, including acting as an application services manager and a data processing manager.

As an application services manager, Fortune oversaw FDOT’s application technology infrastructure, application development, and other related services and managed a $17 million budget. Before that, she led a team of 18-25 employees to develop and maintain applications as a data processing manager and managed database platforms, web servers, document management and application architecture.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Florida State University.

Industry Insider — Florida: As CIO of your organization, how do you describe your role? How have the role and responsibilities of the CIO changed in recent years?

Fortune: I am accountable for ensuring that the goals and objectives of IT align with and support the mission and vision of the department by utilizing technology to help improve transportation safety and mobility to better service our citizens and communities. Another key aspect of my job requires that I build and maintain effective statewide relationships with district and IT staff. Earlier this year, the department moved to a decentralized IT model. The statewide communication channels and touchpoint opportunities are even more important in this decentralized model.

IIFL: In your tenure in this position, which project or achievement are you most proud of?

Fortune: I have been in my current position for less than six months, but I have more than 10 years with the department. While in this position, Hurricane Idalia impacted a large area of Florida. As the department took on recovery efforts after the hurricane, our technology teams were able to help support these efforts. I am very proud of our technology teams and how we were able to provide needed technical information and support to emergency operations centers, weigh stations, district offices and drone response teams. Our teams were on call and available as needed, around the clock, for multiple weeks. I am also proud of our progression to the cloud, as well as our ability to adapt to new technologies as needed to support the business of the department.

IIFL: What projects will you be looking to fund in the upcoming fiscal year? Do you have exceptional requests that may be before the Legislature?

Fortune: I look forward to continued efforts related to the migration and modernization of our applications and infrastructure from on-premises data centers to the cloud. And yes, we do have significant technology and cybersecurity requests before the Legislature for consideration during the upcoming session.

IIFL: What big initiatives or projects are coming up? What development opportunities and RFPs should we watch for in the next six to 12 months?

Fortune: The Department of Financial Services’ Florida PALM project will have cascading impacts on many of our mission-critical technology assets. Remediation efforts, along with our continued focus on migration and modernization of applications, will be key focus areas. Procurement opportunities related to the preceding efforts may be available, depending on funding allocations.

IIFL: How do you define “digital transformation”? How far along is your organization in that process, and how will you know when it’s finished?

Fortune: I do not believe in “doing IT to do IT.” Digital transformation should be purposeful, meeting internal and external customer needs. Our technology leadership team is currently working to update the department’s technology strategic plan. As part of this plan, we want to ensure that technology is used to advance the department’s missions, reduce business friction, improve the user experience, support a culture that attracts and retains top talent as well as focus on cybersecurity in everything we do. I believe we have made great strides toward a digital transformation, but we still have more to do as we continue to use technology to transform our business processes and better support the safety and mobility goals of the department.

IIFL: How often do you update your organization’s enterprise catalog?

Fortune: We are beginning efforts now to update and formalize our technology services offerings. As part of this process, we will establish standards on the frequency of future updates, as well as how to add or remove an offering.

IIFL: What is your estimated IT budget, and how many employees do you have? What is the overall budget?

Fortune: The total budget for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) for fiscal year 2023-2024, including salaries, is $61,282,334. Within the OIT, we have 89 state positions and approximately 110 staff augmentation positions. The overall budget for the department is $15.2 billion for this fiscal year.

IIFL: What do you read to stay abreast of government technology/SLED sector developments?

Fortune: Gartner research, technology news articles, vendor-provided information, technology websites and other industry communications.

IIFL: What do you think is the greatest technology challenge in Florida?

Fortune: 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.

IIFL: What advice would you give someone who would like to lead an IT department?

Fortune: Even though we are technology leaders, we cannot do our jobs without people. People are still at the core of everything, and we must never lose sight of that. We must find ways to engage and encourage our teams and combine that with technology to achieve great things. To create a winning team, you need a great culture combined with great technology.

IIFL: If you could change one thing about IT procurement, what would it be?

Fortune: Working with our technology and department procurement teams is great. They make it as easy as possible within the confines of procurement rules.

IIFL: How do you prefer to be contacted by vendors, including via social media such as LinkedIn?

Fortune: I prefer to be contacted via department email.

IIFL: How might vendors best educate themselves before meeting with you?

Fortune: I would recommend reviewing the home ( website, tracking department-submitted legislative requests and watching for other legislation which could impact the department.

IIFL: Which of your certifications would you like to note?

Fortune: Project Management Professional, PMP; and Florida Certified Public Manager, CPM.

IIFL: What conferences do you attend?

Fortune: I attend local and state technology conferences, as well as conferences specifically focused on transportation and technology, when possible.

IIFL: What are you reading or listening to for fun? What do you do to unplug in your downtime?

Fortune: I generally read books based on recommendations from my college-aged son. I enjoy being outside and taking long walks and hikes.
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.