Technology is your friend, especially when it comes to providing better government services. That’s the word from Thom Guertin, the state’s first Chief Digital Officer, a 45-year-old computer whiz who’s been heralding the benefits of technology for decades. His goal is to use technology to help us easily access government information and services. Put another way: He wants to make government more transparent, responsive, and efficient.
Guertin’s background makes him superbly qualified to lead the charge. Not long after graduating from URI, he was one of the first five employees responsible for the launch of Monster.com, the groundbreaking employment website. From there, he went on to work in business technology solutions for The Boston Globe and The New York Times. He also helped found Code Island, the local branch of Code for America, a volunteer organization dedicated to improving the community through technology.
Since 2012, when former Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee hired him to run the new Office of Digital Excellence, Guertin has supervised the technology for HealthSource RI, improved efficiency at state departments to save money, and launched a “transparency portal’’ so the public can scrutinize government financial records.
His office is also working on a new state tax system, a universal ePermitting project for the state’s cities and towns, and the revamp of state agency websites, including the recently launched Department of Transportation and soon-to-be-deployed Department of Environmental Management.
“We need to be able to do things smarter with a focus on the end user,’’ says Guertin. “We’re working on new online services and ways to visualize data to make government more understandable. Technology enables us to do that.’’