By Jason Shueh
DECEMBER 27, 2016 4:32 PM
Delaware CIO James Collins is staying put. Gov.-elect John Carney has asked Collins to stay on to further a broadband expansion while continuing efforts to centralize IT services and enhance cybersecurity.
“James will help us use technology to make government smarter, operate more efficiently and improve the lives of people who live and work in our state,” Carney, a Democrat, said in a release from his transition team. “His experience inside of state government and in the private sector also offers a unique perspective that will help us foster innovation here in Delaware, create jobs and grow our economy.”
Under Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, Collins took the helm of the state’s Department of Technology & Information (DTI) in 2014, where he began an aggressive push to spread broadband throughout the state and especially in rural areas. Collins did this by working with the state’s General Assembly to secure a private-public partnership with Lightower Fiber Networks that added more than 300 miles of fiberoptic infrastructure.
“I’m extremely proud of expanding and improving broadband access in the state because of the positive impact on education, economic development and quality of life for the citizens of Delaware,” Collins said in an interview last April. “The challenges in many parts of Delaware are the limited options for access to reasonably priced broadband services.”
With more work to do, Collins said next steps for the state is to create a broadband roadmap and to implement its strategies.
Additional priorities for Collins in 2017 may also entail greater work to centralize the Delaware’s IT services. DTI manages more than 42 percent of the state’s full-time IT staff and supports roughly 65 percent of all desktop computers within agencies. This Collins, had said, is part of a larger mission to increase efficiency and decrease costs by combining technology contracts, consolidating data centers and using enterprise technologies to make services more responsive.
“The process has helped mitigate significant risks by stabilizing technology platforms and infrastructures,” Collins said.
Within the area of cybersecurity, strategy-making and collaboration will also be a big priority, and Collins is already well-placed for it. He is chairman of the Delaware Cybersecurity Advisory Council, a group organized earlier this year that assists with managing, sharing and disseminating cybersecurity information between agencies and the private sector.
Yet beyond the traditional infrastructure duties of a CIO, greater responsibility will be placed on Collins to coordinate innovation projects and strategies. Carney emphasized that technology will play a central role to spur higher-paying jobs and business growth. His Economic Development Policy promises open data initiatives to assist entrepreneurs, the state’s first innovation challenge and a new Science & Technology Plan to seed greater entrepreneurial activity.