NASCIO at 50 years, 24 new state CIOs since 2018

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) celebrated its 50th anniversary recently at National Harbor, just outside of Washington, DC. We were fortunate to have a chance to chat with NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson, who was enjoying his 37th year of state CIO conferences, and Lindsey Parker, D.C. chief technology officer, who was attending her first.

“My first conference was in Nashville in 1992 as a state member attendee and I lost count on how many I’ve come to … two conferences a year. And, I just began my 16th year as NASCIO executive director on a Friday,” Robinson said.

The conference has grown immensely over the years as we could both attest and this month’s event had the largest attendance for a spring conference. My first conference I hosted in Boston in 1993. Attendees all fit in what was really only a large conference room. We had maybe 40-50 people, primarily data center managers and the vendor community.

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“We have, I think approximately, because I’m not sure how many folks checked in this morning, but probably 625 or more in terms of mid-year conference. So this is what three or four years ago was a fairly good size annual conference,” Robinson said. “So we expect based on our San Diego attendance last fall, probably 850 or more at our national conference in Nashville this October.”

Focusing back on last week’s event, Robinson said he was most excited about the agenda’s theme of “collaboration.” The May 6 keynote address from author and disruptive collaboration expert Tim Sanders was a big part of that.

Robinson said this was important because of all the new CIOs attending, such as Parker. Since January, 15 new state CIOs were appointed and — 24 in the last year or so. Basically, half of NASCIO’s prime membership has turned over in 12 months. Plus, there are several new governors who have not appointed their CIOs yet.

“The other exceptional piece of our conference theme is partnership. So we have what we call lessons learned case studies in the afternoon breakouts where we discuss corporate and state member partnerships,” Robinson said.

NASCIO corporate partners and a state CIO talked about successful partnerships, collaboration, sharing their solution, their software, and their success.

New DC CTO puts people first

D.C. CTO Parker was appointed in February and excited for her first NASCIO conference.

“I get to say every day that I probably have one of the best jobs out there and I really do mean that I’ve got a great team of folks back at [Office of the Chief Technology Officer],” she said.

She has a staff of almost 300 people.

“[D.C.] Mayor [Muriel] Bowser asked me to really think through the future of government and where we’re going and how we’re going to make sure that digital experience, whether it’s for residents, businesses or 20 million visitors to Washington, D.C., is [as] seamless as possible,” she said.

Parker explained that the nation’s capital is unique. It is in many respects a city, a county and a state government, all in one municipality. At OCTO, her organizational model is based upon a people-first philosophy.

“People are the number one,” she said. “We really need to make sure that our ecosystem is producing folks that are civic innovators interested in coming to work here at the beginning, middle and end of their careers. And they see a career pathway.”

As to the conference itself, Parker was impressed.

“There were some folks out there that were doing great things in the states that D.C. could learn from, but I also passed along some of our lessons learned as well,” she said.

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