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L.A. County CIO’s Advice to Vendors: Focus on Data, Integration

Bill Kehoe told a Techwire audience that those seeking to do business with the nation’s largest county should know that “data is the differentiator” between a vendor’s success and failure.

This story is limited to Industry Insider — California members.
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The chief information officer of Los Angeles County offered some insights and some guidance to vendors this week during a “lightning round” Techwire member briefing. 

Bill Kehoe, the CIO for the nation’s largest county government, said the last 11 months have been the most challenging in his career. The overwhelming majority of the county’s 130,000 employees have been working remotely ever since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down office work, creating a host of unforeseen challenges that had to be resolved quickly.  

Now, nearly a year after the shutdown began, Kehoe said, new priorities have taken root — and are likely to remain:

  • Cloud services, with a big nod to robotic process automation (RPA), are more important than ever to digital government. By increasingly using artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation, “the savings have been incredible” in terms of staff hours and cost compared with doing many of those tasks manually, Kehoe said. And the end product — whether handling forms, performing testing, processing permit applications or doing other functions — is faster and more accurate, he said, noting by way of example that the use of one bot, rather than human involvement, has saved 3,000 work hours in the past year. “We have some really good use cases with RPA,” he said.
  • Security has become more critical than ever, with a workforce that’s using a variety of devices and platforms from vulnerable home Wi-Fi networks. “Security signature” is one key to hardening those defenses, he said.
  • Cultural change is paramount, as evidence by the “tremendous adoption” of collaboration platforms among the county staff, Kehoe said. He also cited the need for urgency in government: “It’s less ‘talk and meet’ and more ‘Let’s get some things done.’”
But if Kehoe had one takeaway for vendors interested in doing business with the county, it was this: “Data is the differentiator” between success and failure. That’s because the county is looking toward more data-driven integrated services, both within government and in its interactions with the public:

  • The county has an ongoing initiative to expand and refine its Open Data Hub. It’s even created a new job classification for those working in the field of data and analytics.
  • The county is working to create a data-based “360-degree view” of how residents interact with the county, encompassing health care, criminal justice, equity and other avenues of service. Those forms of digital government services, Kehoe said, are the new way forward — “the low-hanging fruit” in transforming government. “It’s not just websites anymore,” Kehoe said.  
  • Mobile apps, allowing staff and residents to access government “anytime, anywhere,” are a key, he said. The goal is to streamline government efficiency by allowing many more functions to be performed online rather than in person.
Strategically, Kehoe said, vendors seeking to work with the county should bear in mind that large enterprise systems aren’t the way of the future.

“It’s more about integration now, more hybrid,” he said — “even integrations across your competitors’ platforms.” Enabling separate, modular systems to work together has become almost mandatory, Kehoe said.

The county wants “innovative, short-term, high-impact, not-big-cost” goods and services in its technology procurement. That includes products and services geared to training the county staff in working remotely and collaborating online.

Vendors seeking to work the county should do their homework, Kehoe added:

  • Read the Countywide Enterprise Technology Strategic Plan and “find your niche,” he said.
  • Become familiar with the county’s IT priorities and initiatives and hone your pitch accordingly.
  • Get qualified for the county’s various contract vehicles — the Enterprise Services Master Agreement (EMSA), the Information Technology Support Services Master Agreement (ITSSMA) and any others that may apply. Being on those contracts, he said, “is a free business development workflow” blueprint for vendors.
Tuesday’s 30-minute virtual briefing for Techwire members was led by Alan Cox, executive vice president of Techwire parent e.Republic, and was recorded. It may be viewed by following the link on Techwire members’ initial registration email.

Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.