Al Pitts, Deputy CIO of Clark County, talks to us about the organisation’s IT transformation, and why collaboration is key to support residents.

Navigating the world of local government can be a minefield of red tape, both for citizens and those working within it. This is why, when big changes are made – even under duress – it’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time. They have to be undertaken with care and a focus on the people the agency serves. Clark County is an organisation which has been able to evolve successfully during a difficult time. And Al Pitts, Deputy CIO, has been at the forefront of this transformation.

Pitts had been interested in it since childhood, and coding was a natural progression. As a result, his first job was as a Programmer Analyst at a large fast food chain. He spent seven years with that organisation and found that It was his love. It was what he wanted to do, and he never stopped chasing it. “I love the challenges and the pace, even then. I knew it was the direction my career should go in. And here I am, 30 years later, still in technology.”

Witnessing twin transformations

In May 2023, Pitts became part of Clark County as a DCIO. At this point, the organisation was already firmly in the midst of an IT transformation. However, Pitts bore witness to this as he was with the City of Las Vegas prior to his current role. They’re essentially sister agencies and have been through essentially the same journey. And so, in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and made many organisations realise that they were behind the times with their technology, it was no different for Clark County and City of Las Vegas.

“Clark County and City of Las Vegas work very closely together,” says Pitts. “We both went through the exact same thing. All of a sudden, the requests for services were different. In my role with City of Las Vegas, the first thing I was tasked with was setting up an intake application for an isolation and quarantine unit for the homeless in downtown Las Vegas. Our homeless problem is no different than for other large cities in the US. But, in this instance there was also a pandemic spreading, and we had to be able to account for medical services. Plus, we had to enable people to isolate and quarantine based on government rules.

“For big transformation projects like this, typically government agencies get out our big roll of red tape and start to stick it everywhere. It means we have these elongated timeframes for getting things done. I think the timeframe that we were given at the time was a week and a half. Even then, we only had that amount because they had to get the physical infrastructure in place first.”

This was a huge reality check for the two agencies, which were working together at the time to solve this very problem. “We all knew we had to respond, but the stakes had changed,” Pitts continues. “We had to go all in if we wanted to make something happen that was going to be beneficial to our residents.

Portals, Places, Platforms & Productivity

Clark County began making changes under ‘the four P’s’ – Portals, Places, Platforms, and Productivity. When Pitts became part of the team in 2023, he adopted this and continued it to ensure consistency as the world continues to recover from the pandemic.

“The IT department has the typical divisions that make up most traditional governmental departments. These include application services, technical services or infrastructure, IT admin, and security services,” Pitts explains. “Creating a group of services and functions that were a little less traditional came with the advent of Digital Services, which was a response to the pandemic in the short run. In the long run, it was a response to a deficit in emerging technologies, focused on innovation and digital transformation.”

Read the full story here

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