State of Michigan CIO: State Seeks Partnerships with Michigan IT Firms

The State of Michigan’s Chief Information Officer, David Behen, outlined a plan this week for moving the State forward with the help of Michigan IT firms.

Behen spoke Thursday at a Capital Area IT Council (CAITC) membership meeting held at the west campus of Lansing Community College. The CAITC is an organization including industry, education, economic development, and government leaders with the mission of overcoming the workforce development challenges facing regional employers.

David Behen became Michigan’s CIO in January of 2011, bringing to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) his experience in local government and the private sector, along with a passion for IT and a tremendous sense of urgency. His presentation, titled “Moving IT Forward: Reinventing Michigan through IT” found a welcoming audience.

Centering on Michigan’s recognition as having one of the most advanced “digital governments” in the Country, Behen discussed how IT fits into the plan that new governor Rick Snyder’s administration has put in place to balance the State’s historically high expenditures and low revenues.

“We are putting strategy in the driver’s seat,” says Behen, explaining that the new focus is “not just on the budget.” Referring to Mr. Snyder as a “technology governor,” he elaborated several cornerstones of the Government 2.0 approach to technology.

Updating government offices and facilities to make them more customer-centered is a primary goal. Behen explained that such entities will be re-organized around customers and their areas of interest, rather than government bureaucracy. The end result will be “one stop portals” that offer “instant, accurate, and easy” services.

Recognizing the growing commercial and industry trend of communicating with and serving the public via social media, Behen pledged an increase in the State’s use of social media for service delivery and collaboration, stating that “Online tools and social media are now the norm.”

Governor Snyder has made a promise of running the State like a business, and the DTMB has responded by implementing an “open door” policy. Enabled by the new pro-technology approach, citizens will have the data they need at their fingertips, allowing them to find out how the State is spending taxpayer dollars and what the money is being spent on.

“We want the citizens of the State of Michigan to hold us accountable,” says Behen, following up with a description of a “data and outcomes based” performance management system that will give State planners the ability to make better decisions about how public money is used. “We will measure everything we do, and use the results,” he says.

Performance measurement and analysis techniques are in common use in the business world, and are creeping in to government and public organizations. As an example, Behen outlined how the use of predictive analytics has helped areas such as police work, enabling police chiefs to predict roughly where and when crime would occur and then use that information to decide how many active officers are needed at what times, and where to put them. Similarly, the State will use the data it collects to predict future outcomes and make proactive adjustments to programs and activities.

Mobile computing, the use of smartphones and tablet computers, is a growing consumer trend and the State is poised to capitalize on this trend. Plans are in place to build a world-class network to offer anywhere, anytime access to both State employees and Michigan residents. The State will see new efficiencies with the use of regional service centers and video conferencing that will consolidate operations and save travel time. Behen indicated that portions of the plan are already a reality, with the launch of a fleet of 773 police cruisers equipped with new mobile tech.

The most exciting prospect for Michigan IT providers is a new revolving IT investment fund designed to drive innovation and result in better service to taxpayers at a lower cost. Behen expects this innovation will include business process re-engineering, and will advance cloud computing popularity by reducing costs and barriers to absorption, saying “Good technology on a bad process equals bad technology.”

The 2.5 million dollar fund represents the State’s effort to identify opportunities for public-private partnerships. Capital Area IT Council members were urged to help by proactively bringing creative solutions to the table.

“We don’t want vendors,” Behen says, “We want partnerships. What happens in the Lansing area is important to the rest of the State.”

Jeff Dettloff, IT Council President, responded to the presentation, saying “We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with the State. We work hard to actively build and promote a vibrant and thriving IT community in the Greater Lansing area and having such great support on a State level is very meaningful.”

“Nearly every company today employs IT workers, or hires outside IT consultants,” Dettloff continues. “The issues we face reach much further than just IT firms, so this is excellent news that should be on everyone’s radar. The new initiatives are going to provide great benefits to the local economy and to all of Michigan.”

Behen ended his presentation with a request for help, and for Michigan IT leaders to build relationships with him and his IT team.

“Help us innovate!” he says. “Help us reinvent Michigan! We can’t do it alone!”

Learn more about the Capital Area IT Council at The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget can be found on the web at

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