State’s New Chief Technologist Outlines Her Priorities, Principles

“I’m a people person, so I still look for the opportunity to be able to meet with industry leaders in person. I am looking forward to that. I’m sure the vendor community is looking forward to that,” said Liana Bailey-Crimmins, state CTO and chief of the Office of Technology Services.

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The state’s chief technology officer and chief of the Office of Technology, Liana Bailey-Crimmins, has been in “the chair” only a short time, and she’s already laying down markers on her priorities, her relationships with vendors and her personal style of leadership. Bailey-Crimmins, whose new post puts her in the top echelon of leadership in the California Department of Technology, spoke about these topics and more in a wide-ranging interview last week with Techwire.

Headshot of Liana Bailey-Crimmins.
Liana Bailey-Crimmins
Today, we publish some excerpts of that interview of immediate and particular interest to the vendor community. On Friday, in our weekly “Techwire One-on-One” interview series, we dig deeper into Bailey-Crimmins’ motivations, and some major personal and professional challenges she’s overcome during her 34 years in state government. Herewith, some takeaways from Bailey-Crimmins:

ON HER NEW ROLE


“At the Department of Technology, I have two important roles. The first is the chief of the Office of Technology Services, and second is the state chief technology officer.

“As the OTech chief, I lead a talented group of innovators and administrative team members that basically deliver, manage and secure data center and technology services to over 300 city, local and state departments. My priorities are to establish a strategy and plan for the future. I want to ensure that my operations are organized in an efficient manner to be able to provide value to our customers. And I want to make sure that I’m delivering leadership that inspires and motivates my team members to achieve their very best, and to establish controls. We need to make sure we manage what we measure, so mitigating risk, ensuring compliance and improving overall compliance — those are my operational priorities for OTech.

“When it comes to being the state chief technology officer, my role is to basically build technology bridges across the state, identifying centers of excellence. There’s great things happening at the city, local and state levels. Are there opportunities to provide shared services that benefit all? And I chair several peer advisory groups, where there are CIOs, CTOs and CISOs, so we look for opportunities to establish policy, standardization, and always remembering the goal in mind is that we want the residents of California to thank us in two, three, four years for the decisions that we make today. That’s the test.”

ON VENDOR RELATIONS


“I’m a people person, so I still look for the opportunity to be able to meet with industry leaders in person. I am looking forward to that. I’m sure the vendor community is looking forward to that. … Even in the last two months, I’ve met with numerous vendors and had the opportunity to talk about the strategy and establish the big picture. I’m here to tell vendors where we’re going, and then I rely on my team to select what technology we use in order to get there. So if I’m talking about customer relationship management software, or some type of automation in the workflow, my job is to say, ‘This is what we’re trying to achieve and this is why we’re trying to achieve it’ and set boundaries on what it is so I know we’re delivering the right thing … but then I leave it to my engineers and my experts to basically do the proof of concept, do the RFIs (requests for information) and work through those processes.”

TALKING ABOUT PRIORITIES


“In my two months in the chair, I look at people, process, technology. So when we look at prioritization in general, the Silver Tsunami is here. We’ve talked about it for a long time, you’ve written about it. Just in my network team alone, almost all of my managers are retiring by the end of the year, so succession planning, mentoring, training, making sure I’m bringing up those next level of leaders in the state, is extremely important.

“On process, I believe in reducing complexity. I look at ways to lean my process, because that speeds the delivery, so we can turn things around in weeks versus months.

“And looking at the technology, we recently established predetermined cloud terms from people that purchase from us, so we have four new offerings, and … we look for opportunities to either be the vehicle for departments to utilize us to contract with a cloud provider or, in some cases, utilize our skills to manage those services in the cloud on their behalf. Those are some opportunities that we’re looking at in the near future.”

ADVICE FOR VENDORS


“I’ve always enjoyed the private-public partnerships and relationships. I always recommend that vendors and industry leaders read (the) Vision 2023 document … understand what our priorities are for the next few years, and also understand that we’re not trying to (do everything) ... in year one. What are the priorities for years two, three, and based on those priorities, those are the things I want them to come and have those conversations with us.

“I start small — I crawl, walk and I run — so what are the things we’re looking at doing? OTech is building a three-year business plan that aligns to Vision 2023, and a technology road map that outlines how OTech will complement and support that Vision 2023. That should be published in the next few months, and that will give more insight to the vendor community on specifically the projects and technology and things that we’re looking for that will support and stand up that vision.”
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. 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 the Northern California foothills.