Stu Davis professional photo

Stuart Davis

Vice-President, Consulting Expert

Leading up to and during the 2024 National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) MidyearConference, state CIOs nationwide have been gathering to discuss the top priorities and challenges facing state governments today.

As former State CIO of Ohio, I am excited to see three important topics progress from conversations – to early actions:

  • Artificial intelligence and citizen portals
  • Data quality and governance
  • Workforce empowerment


Artificial intelligence (AI) and citizen portals

The hottest topic has been the rapid rise of attention on generative artificial intelligence (genAI) in our cultural psyche and how states are working to embrace AI while ensuring proper guardrails are in place. GenAI, the next generation of AI that excels at pattern creation, is quickly moving from the fringes of technology experimentation to the core of strategic governmental planning. AI has been used in state government for years, but these were in controlled deployments. The ethical implications of deploying genAI across government without proper controls are a paramount concern.

Therefore, state CIOs are highly focused on responsible AI adoption, ensuring that AI systems are transparent, equitable, and free from biases that could lead to unfair treatment of citizens. They also discussed the need for implementing rigorous risk management practices, whereby states either have or are developing executive orders and legislative statutes focused on the governance of AI systems.

Alongside setting guidelines for ethical AI use, states see a huge potential for AI to transform citizen services through citizen-focused portals. AI can significantly enhance the interaction between citizens and government—from automating responses to public inquiries to providing personalized service delivery—and increase efficiency and productivity. Chatbots, fraud detection, and robotic process automation were cited as early use cases already underway.

Data quality and governance

The roundtable discussions before the Midyear conference highlighted the critical challenges surrounding data quality and governance in AI implementation. Ensuring "clean data" is a fundamental prerequisite, and state CIOs acknowledge that AI's predictive accuracy and operational efficacy are deeply influenced by the quality of the underlying data.

However, revamping data to ensure its quality and finding the best available data sources is a vast and complex undertaking. Data is often siloed across departments, divisions, and agencies, leading to a lack of awareness about the existence of more accurate data sources. There is a reluctance to acknowledge data quality issues as organizations continue to make daily decisions based on their existing data, regardless of its flaws. Still, high-quality, well-curated data is the essential fuel that powers AI, analytics and digital transformation efforts. Data completeness, consistency, and accuracy are fundamental to developing AI solutions that are reliable, effective, and capable of delivering desired outcomes.

To that end, state CIOs recognize that data governance frameworks are essential for maintaining data quality and ensuring data security, privacy, and ethical usage. State leaders have begun advocating for comprehensive governance strategies that address data life cycles—from collection to deletion—and several have dedicated data management and quality initiatives. But long-standing agency turf wars and culture issues remain obstacles, and breaking down these siloes to integrate, cleanse, and leverage data assets is a daunting yet critical challenge.

Workforce empowerment

State CIOs are exploring how genAI can be strategically implemented to streamline government operations, improve decision-making, and automate routine tasks—enabling valuable human resources to spend time addressing more complex problems. However, a significant focus is also placed on the impact of AI on the workforce.

There is a pressing need for AI education and workforce training. States are considering training their workforce around AI through partnerships with technology experts and academic institutions and leveraging AI's benefits through offerings such as managed services, which can provide flexible scalability and significant cost savings.

The NASCIO roundtable discussions underscored the necessity of reskilling employees to work alongside AI systems effectively. Some states have begun partnership opportunities with educational institutions and private sector entities to prepare their workforce for an AI-integrated future. This approach mitigates the risks of job displacement and enhances job quality and employee satisfaction by eliminating mundane tasks and focusing on higher-value activities.

Forward-looking strategies

I applaud the state CIOs for their thoughtful and deliberate approaches to these challenges. I'm excited to continue to monitor the developments from NASCIO and other influential bodies, as the path forward for state IT is both challenging and filled with opportunities. State governments can lead by example in the digital age by focusing on AI and citizen portals, data quality and governance, and workforce empowerment, creating a more engaged, secure, and efficient public sector. The journey will have its ups and downs, but continued open and honest dialogue, like the NASCIO roundtables and NASCIO conferences, is a start in the right direction.

CGI is a trusted, proven, innovative partner for state and local government agencies with long-term goals and critical public service missions. CGI has the scale, reach, and capabilities to expertly serve public sector organizations and meet clients where they are on their digital transformation journey through a flexible and adaptive approach. To learn more, visit state and local government expertise.

About this author

Stu Davis professional photo

Stuart Davis

Vice-President, Consulting Expert

Stu Davis is a nationally recognized IT leader and pragmatic, creative thinker focused on successful business outcomes. Prior to CGI, Stu was the State of Ohio’s longest-serving Chief Information Officer (CIO), working under John Kasich from 2011-2018. As CIO, ...