Washington CIO Bill Kehoe balances digital government and fairness

Bill Kehoe is new to Washington state government, but he’s a veteran in public computing. As a former CIO of Los Angeles County and King County, Washington, he has seen firsthand how citizens’ relationships with government have changed over time.

At the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) annual conference this week, a common theme from CIOs across the country was how the pandemic has really underscored the need for government services online. And while states have been able to roll out new websites, chatbots and remote operations in record time, the idea that residents want an Amazon-like experience from the government isn’t new.

Kehoe explained that while, of course, making services more immediately available to citizens – the same way they access Amazon, Netflix and Uber – is key to advancing public sector work, the other side of the medal is the element of connectivity. If citizens cannot access an online portal and all of their government needs are met from home, they still need to be served.

He said this thinking — the idea that technology investments should be focused on end-user outcomes — is a shift he’s seeing from state CIOs at all levels.

“What we’re seeing…is that tech isn’t just for tech,” Kehoe said. “All of our investments in technology and our projects must be focused on the people we serve.”

Lauren Harrison is the editor of Government Technology magazine. She holds a degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and over 10 years of book and magazine publishing experience.

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Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has over two decades of writing and editing experience, spanning public projects, transportation, business and technology. A native of California, she has worked in both state and local government and graduated from the University of California, Davis, majoring in political science and American history. She can be reached by email and on Twitter.

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Ashley C. Reynolds