CIO of financial protection on role change, IT initiatives

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Within the framework of Technical wireContinuing efforts to educate readers about state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, this is the latest in our series of periodic interviews with departmental IT and cybersecurity officials.

Georges gaborek is the chief information officer of the Financial Protection and Innovation Department (DFPI), formerly Department of Business Oversight (DBO), a position he has held since July 2013. A 20-year state veteran, Gaborek began his service there when he joined the California Energy Commission in 2001 He was previously CIO for the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), as of 2010. Gaborek holds a BA in Economics from the University of California, Davis and an Associate Science degree in Electronics from Sacramento City College. .

Technical thread: As the CIO of your organization, how would you describe your role; and how have the role and responsibilities of the CIO changed in recent years?

Gaborek: I see the role of the CIO in the ever-evolving state information technology organizations. When I became CIO at DFI in 2010, we mainly focused on overseeing IT resources and staff in the department; build a reliable, efficient and robust network infrastructure; and the development and implementation of custom application systems with a strong emphasis on project management. While these CIO functions may remain today, my role has evolved from focusing primarily on “keeping the lights on” to building stronger relationships and becoming true strategic business partners with departmental programs. Establishing these partnerships between IT and business programs has led to increased communication, transparency, collaboration, clarity and opportunities to ensure that the right technologies are delivered to meet the mission and strategic objectives of the company. department while continuing to provide the necessary services to our customers and stakeholders. Another thing that has changed in recent years is the focus on cybersecurity due to the increased number of security attacks targeting government entities. As Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

I also believe that the continued changes in policy and procedure of the state’s IT governing bodies, such as a departmental agency and the California Department of Technology (CDT), have dramatically altered the role and the responsibilities of the CIO. State CIOs are not only responsible for the development and maintenance of technology services, internal policies and data security for their departments, they are also responsible for complying with and implementing the strategies and policies defined by the governing bodies of the State. I think you can really say that today’s state CIOs are better equipped to achieve their goals by having these policies and procedures in place, and having the expertise and support of their corporate information officers. readily available agency, as well as policy support and advice from the CDT.

Technical thread: What role do you personally play in writing your organization’s strategic plan?

Gaborek: I currently sit on the ministry’s strategic plan committee which is finalizing its four-year strategic plan for 2021-2024. With the recent promulgation of Assembly bill 1864, California’s Consumer Financial Protection Act, the DFPI added a new Consumer Financial Protection (CFP) division and a new Financial Technology Innovation Office. This has expanded the Department’s regulatory oversight of financial firms and unlicensed companies to strengthen and provide financial protection to all California consumers. With the promulgation of AB 1864 and the adoption of AB 107 (September 29, 2020), changing the name of the department from Department of Enterprise Supervision to Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, a new strategic plan was drawn up, with advice from the Commissioner and members of the team of management. My role, as a member of the leadership team and contributor to the strategic plan, was to advise, guide and raise awareness of the relevance and critical role that technology plays in all of the department’s strategic business objectives.

Technical thread: What major initiatives or projects are coming in 2021? What types of tenders should we watch out for over the next six to twelve months?

Gaborek: I anticipate that new projects and / or purchases will result from DFPI’s new CFP division and its new debt collection programs and new people covered once their business processes and procedures are fully established. Recently, DFPI issued a call for tenders to upgrade its online self-service portal, which will lead to a complete overhaul that will provide consumers and businesses with a convenient and secure way to acquire and request electronically. departmental information and services, and to respond to all requests for regulatory requirements. We are also currently adding a Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) to the department’s network architecture. Along with SD-WAN, we are increasing our network bandwidth to better support the increased remote workforce in the department. In addition, IT security projects and supply forecasts are planned for the current fiscal year.

Technical thread: How do you define “digital transformation” and where is your organization in this process? How will you know when it’s over?

Gaborek: From my perspective, digital transformation is our ability to implement new technologies or modify existing technologies to accommodate new or changing processes, cultures and business environments so that the department can fulfill its mission to provide efficient and secure services to its customers, stakeholders and external parties. the partners. In my opinion, digital transformation is an ongoing process that must be constantly monitored, analyzed and reassessed. Basically, I see digital transformation as a never-ending, continuous process. The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of how the work environment and state culture can change rapidly, and digital transformation strategies and opportunities have been and will continue to be at the forefront as we plan and implement better, more efficient and more convenient services. to our customers.

Technical thread: What is your estimated IT budget and how many employees do you have? What is the overall budget?

Gaborek: For fiscal year 2021-2022, our IT budget is approximately $ 14.7 million, which includes software, hardware, maintenance and personnel costs. Currently, our IT organization is made up of 50 IT professionals. The ministry’s overall operational budget for fiscal years 21-22 is approximately $ 132 million. DFPI currently has 693 authorized positions for fiscal years 21-22.

Technical thread: How do you prefer to be contacted by suppliers, including via social networks such as LinkedIn? How can suppliers better educate themselves before meeting with you?

Gaborek: My preferred method of contact with the supplier is by email. Despite receiving a large number of emails from vendors, when I have time, I try to research their products and / or services to see if they match our IT operational architecture and strategic goals. . If I can give an overview to the supplier community, I think it is important that suppliers first research our service to better understand its mission, before contacting me. In addition, it would be preferable for potential suppliers to understand the state procurement process and the benefits of having their products and / or services listed and certified through the state leveraged procurement mechanism. .

Technical thread: In your tenure in this position, which project or achievement are you most proud of?

Gaborek: It is difficult for me to identify a project, but one of the most difficult projects I have been involved in that does not involve the successful development and implementation of a new system, is the Reorganization Plan. of Governor 2 (GRP 2). As part of GRP 2 in 2013, DFI and the Department of Corporations merged to become DBO. The coordination of IT activities, including the development of a new departmental website, the development of a new IT network architecture and infrastructure, and the consolidation of administrative systems and workforce was quite difficult and a required the coordinated efforts of the department commissioner, management team, suppliers and CDT service engineers. The GRP 2 effort has been the most rewarding achievement for me and my IT team and, due to its success, our recent change to DFPI, with additional divisions and responsibilities, has proven to be much easier and less stressful for us. the IT team.

Technical thread: If you could change one thing about IT procurement, what would it be?

Gaborek: For me, having experienced state IT procurement for the past 20 years, I applaud both the California Department of General Service and CDT for making great strides in improving government procurement processes. If I could improve on one area, I would streamline the state process to drastically reduce the time it takes between process initiation and delivery to receive a product or service.

Technical thread: What do you read to stay abreast of developments in the govtech / SLED sector?

Gaborek: LOL, I can’t wait to take my morning break with a cup of hot java and a dose of Technical wire reading. Other posts that I like to read when I have the time include GovTech now. *

Technical thread: What are your hobbies and what do you like to read?

Gaborek: Although I am approaching my golden years and having to deal with some of the physical ailments that come with aging, I enjoy playing basketball with a group of former colleagues every week. . I also like to try and play a round of golf with my son whenever I have time. Today it is difficult for me to find the time to read as much as I would like. The last book I read was recommended and provided by former Department Commissioner Manny Alvarez, Radical franchise by Kim Scott. I highly recommend this read for those who want to learn and take a different approach to managing people.

*The GovTech now the newsletter is produced by Government technology magazine, a sister publication of Technical wire.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited slightly for style and brevity.


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