IT Modernization Means Collaboration for New Jersey CTO

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear from New Jersey’s Chief Technology Officer, Chris Rein, while listening in on a Corporate Leadership Council meeting hosted by NASCIO. Rein took over the job of CTO 16 months ago following the election of a new governor.

One of Rein’s biggest challenges will be updating and modernizing many of the outdated legacy systems. They “have some very old and spotty technology infrastructure,” with the oldest systems being nearly 50 years old, Rein explained during the call. Saying you need to replace these legacy systems is one thing but actually being able to fund a replacement system is whole different animal. Rein has been working with the state’s treasurer to develop a strategy to modernize these systems and speed up the RFP process as well.

New Jersey’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) has a budget of about $120 million, only half of which is direct appropriation. OIT collects the other half by charging state agencies for services/infrastructure. That’s where industry comes in, collaborating with the state agencies and OIT to identify and strategically plan where to and how to modernize state systems while supporting the business model. Vendors need to work with OIT and agencies to:

  • Identify gaps in systems and processes – Bring to the table solutions to help the state stabilize, speed-up and secure their systems and processes.
  • Focus on business needs – Enable the agency to improve its service delivery to citizens and improve overall government transparency.
  • Support cybersecurity posture – Reinforce the agency’s endpoints and ability to respond to cybersecurity threats – to ensure no compromise in state or citizen data.

Collaboration will be the key element to modernizing New Jersey’s legacy systems. Efforts to consolidate IT infrastructure under the OIT umbrella in the past didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated and “OIT was not held in generally favorable light” according to Rein. Moving forward, his focus will be to work in partnership with each of the 35 state agency CIOs to understand their pain points, requirements and needs – and devise an IT plan that reflects them. For industry, that means working within that process – engaging with both OIT and the agencies to accurately identify the problems your technology solution can solve.

Later this month, I’ll be heading off to Nashville for the NASCIO annual conference, where immixGroup is a gold sponsor. If you are interested in hearing more about state CIO priorities, look for my next blog where I will summarize the key themes and priorities discussed during the conference.


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