Secretary Jim Duffey: “Technology isn’t red or blue”

Jim Duffey

Back in January, Jim Duffey was appointed Secretary of Technology for Virginia by then Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. Since that time, Duffey has been hard at work to get as much done as possible within the short time he will hold office.

“It’s been very enjoyable,” Duffey said, regarding the transition from the private sector into the public. “It’s different. The pace, particularly when the General Assembly is in, is at a super high speed.”

Duffey previously served as President and CEO of Duff Consulting and worked for 24 years at EDS Corp.

“There’s a lot going on and a lot of moving parts and you really have to concentrate and work at it to stay up with them,” he said.

Another reason for the fast pace is the desire to make an impact in the short period of time Duffey will have as Secretary.

“As hard as you try to make an impact in a state with a one-term governor, you probably only have 2-2.5 years to really have a substantial impact,” Duffey said. “I think we are all focused to try to get as much done as we can in the first 2-2.5 years and during the remainder of the term, lay a foundation for the next administration.”

Duffey recognizes that his office is uniquely positioned to leave a useful legacy for the Commonwealth, as no matter what party comes after McDonnell’s administration; technology will be a central tool.

“Technology isn’t red or blue,” Duffey said. “Technology is a tool … that if you use it correctly, it allows you to get as much data as possible as quickly as possible.”

“If we’re fortunate, we’ll be able to accomplish quite a bit and at the same time, lay a foundation so the following administration can also be productive and efficient in regard to IT,” he added.

In the technology realm, McDonnell has four major goals that he wants to accomplish during his term, according to Duffey. The first, is job creation and each Secretariat in McDonnell’s administration is focused on doing “whatever they can to enact policies and provide support to help in the creation of jobs,” Duffey said.

Another key area is McDonnell’s goal that Virginia become the go-to state for entrepreneurs.

“If you’re going to start a new business, the buzz on the blogs, the buzz in the industry, the word on the street needs to be: ‘if you want to succeed … and want to be in an environment that’s good for starting a business – you need to go to Viginia,’” he said.

Additionally, extending broadband throughout the Commonwealth is another major goal.

“[McDonnell] wants to make sure that we try to get broadband as widely and deeply dispersed as we possibly can,” Duffey said. “That would allow the people and workforce to hook in … that, I think, has the tendency to create the potential for new jobs.”

Health IT is another goal of McDonnell’s, in which he hopes that the Commonwealth will become a national leader, according to Duffey.

“The state that has the most comprehensive tools and ability to deal with the health information in the most efficient way is going to be one of the leaders in the country,” he said. “I think Virginia is well-positioned to compete to be one of those leaders.”

The final area McDonnell’s administration is looking into is to promote greater collaboration and cooperation among research and development centers at Virginia’s universities.

“We’ve got some great universities doing some fantastic work,” Duffey said. “Everyone is doing their own thing and it’s relatively successful but we’re convinced that if we get more coordination and collaboration between and among universities and different programs then we can actually give it a little boost.”

Looking towards the future, Duffey said that partnerships in enterprise applications will likely hold the key.

“I think the next step … is to look at partnerships in the enterprise application world,” he said. “There is going to be a need to try and ensure that our software systems get more and more citizen-centric and more and more integrateable.”

As many organizations in the federal government are looking to cloud computing as a method to improve efficiency, Virginia is more likely to move to a private cloud, according to Duffey.

“I think the cloud community is great,” he said. “I think it affords a degree of efficiency. I think we’ll probably move towards … our ‘own’ cloud so to speak, as opposed to going into the public cloud.”

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