On the job slightly more than 50 days, Rhode Island’s new chief information officer and chief digital officer is focusing on the people, processes and technologies needed to maintain forward momentum on the state’s major technology initiatives.
Bijay Kumar, who was hired July 30, joined the state roughly five months after the resignations of Human Services Director Melba Depeña Affigne and Chief Digital Officer Thom Guertin, who oversaw design and implementation of the troubled Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP).
Formerly in the private sector with the likes of toymaker Hasbro Inc. and Staples, Kumar said he is finding that both staff and technology exist “at different levels of maturity” at the state. Though he expressed confidence in the state's deep well of talent, he acknowledged the historical difficulty in retaining skilled personnel in the public sector.
“In terms of people, it is definitely harder to attract and retain staff talent in government. I believe that is something which all government agencies and all state and federal folks do face,” Kumar said.
“A lot of times, the funds we have drive the amount of innovation as well as application optimization we can do. To be creative within the constraints, you have to do an exceptional job,” he added.
Optimizing Rhode Island IT For Kumar, the process of optimizing Rhode Island IT started with in-the-field meetings with agency directors, and collaborating with an assortment of state personnel to leverage information sharing and best practices.