State CIO: Working together and putting people first

March 10, 2021 – One year ago, panicked shoppers cleared hand sanitizer, bleach wipes and paper products from market shelves. Food staples were rationed as fear and uncertainty prompted a survivalist reaction for many. As Californians sheltered for safety, our state’s information technology jumped ahead to play a major role in pandemic response.

COVID-19 posed similar technological challenges throughout the nation and across the globe, exposing vast inequities for the unconnected: moving to virtual work and education; finding a way to communicate or learn about safety protocols; tracing COVID exposure in a way that protected privacy; and providing quick and equitable access to testing, results and vaccines. Because of the size and complexity of California, these demands were magnified.

The crises of 2020, that for California also included the state’s worst wildfire season on record, helped us define a path forward. Vision 2023, our statewide strategic plan for delivering technology services, evolved during this unprecedented year. Putting people first, continuously improving, and working together became our guiding principles. By listening and learning, we identified solutions, quickly adapted to changing circumstances, and attacked our most difficult problems through policy and technology.

In a single year, the role of government—how we worked and how we solved problems—made a sea change. Ninety percent of our 230,000 state workforce moved to telework in a single month without a major interruption of public services. More than 9 million Californians signed up to receive exposure notifications from a system that took only two weeks to build; and in a matter of days, CDT made available dashboards with interactive location data by county. The Safe Schools For All Hub and My Turn systems followed. In seven short weeks, more than 1 million vaccines were delivered through My Turn. Multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams achieved all of these solutions by working together.

Going forward, our highest goal is for every Californian to feel like they can easily access and understand the government information and resources they need. To achieve this, we will work with program and policy teams to ensure tools and information are accessible, transparent, user centric, secure, and continually improving. A big part of that improvement will be the development of digital IDs to provide California residents with a single, easy access to all state services.

We have already proven that together we can deliver these types of services in record time. We pledge to build on this momentum and continue to deliver for California.