Day 30: Need for IT Transformation, an agency point of view - Accelerating Illinois’ Modernization: a 30-day blog

Today is about IT transformation’s most critical step, the creation of the new Department of Innovation & Technology. We will hear from Jennifer Ricker, Chief of Staff at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. She explains why IT transformation is critical for every Illinois agency. In the afternoon, we will hear about next steps around the formation of the Department of Innovation & Technology. And we will end the day with some videos. You haven’t had popcorn since last Friday!!!


This Monday, the Governor’s Executive Order creating the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) became effective. The agency will ultimately bring together the majority of the State’s technology resources under one, unified structure. This effort is far more than the consolidation of resources - it is about transformation.

The first time I heard State CIO Hardik Bhatt speak about his vision for the future of technology in Illinois, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Hardik’s vision is of a single technology organization, aligned to be more efficient and effective with the ultimate goal of serving the state’s taxpayers. It’s a vision of implementing a statewide technology strategy that is mobile, agile, and customer-focused, which aligns with Governor Rauner's vision to transform our state. That’s why I jumped at the chance to help implement transformation in Illinois.

I have worked for the State of Illinois for more than 17 years, most of that time managing agency operations. And by managing, I mean spending hours and hours pulling data from multiple systems and manually piecing it together in a spreadsheet in order to obtain basic information required to actually manage. Management and financial reports consist of dozens of spreadsheets that require hours of work to create and continual effort to maintain. It’s a lot of manual entry, and therefore there is a higher chance of human error and possible inaccurate information. Without access to real-time, accurate information, making good business decisions becomes increasingly more difficult.

If I want to purchase a paperclip, that purchase will touch three different systems, and that's just within my agency. We utilize a .net application for requesting and approving purchases. That's fed by data from a budgeting system built on an access database. When the invoice arrives, a form to make the payment is generated and printed out, and then the paperwork is given to finance staff to manually enter into a mainframe system in order to generate the voucher. That voucher is provided to the state Comptroller on a tape (Can someone check if it is really 2016?) to run on yet another system, which produces the warrant.

My small agency of approximately 200 staff is running about 150 applications. Our small, but talented, IT staff barely has the time to maintain these systems, let alone work on implementing anything actualIy developed this century.? In addition, the number of applications has continued to grow, and older systems are rarely decommissioned.

Application rationalization is a major component of transformation and the deployment of the state’s new ERP system will help this effort tremendously as well. But it’s the unification of IT staff that will become a force-multiplier and allow us to design an organizational structure that is solutions-based and agile, while providing the ability to develop and implement statewide strategy. With upwards of 1,600 technology staff and close to $1 billion in annual IT spending, there is no reason we can’t be a leader in providing modern, adaptable solutions to agency and taxpayer business needs. Today is a major step toward making the vision a reality.

More later today.. And tomorrow we will wrap up the March 30-day blog spree….