Published on Oct 29, 2019
In 2019, Mayor Lightfoot merged the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) with Fleet and Facility Management (2FM) in an attempt to save $1M in the 2019 Chicago City Budget. I, along with 9 current and former municipal CIOs, CDOs and civic technologists, publicly raised concerns and questions about the negative potential impact of this merger. Many of these questions were asked by Alders at the Budget hearing on Oct 31, 2019. In Mayor Brandon Johnson’s 2024 budget, this merger was proposed to be undone.
As part of Mayor Lightfoot’s proposed 2020 budget for the City of Chicago, the Departments of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Fleet and Facility Management (2FM) would be merged to create the newly formed Department of Asset and Information Management.
As members representing Chicago’s civic tech community, we believe this proposal represents a significant transformation with many far-reaching consequences for the future of Chicago’s digital services and infrastructure.
We do not have all of the information that led to this proposed merger, and we have some questions on the justification and potential consequences from this move. Drawing upon the expertise of current and former chief information officers, chief data officers, civic technologists, technology entrepreneurs, and notable researchers, we have written a set of clarifying questions based on concerns that we have with this merger.
It is our hope that these questions be thoughtfully considered and any issues raised from them addressed before this merger is approved.
By moving the CIO and CDO out of DoIT and into the Mayor’s office, there will be no direct line to the Chief Information Security Officer and the technical leadership in the City. As cities like Atlanta and Baltimore have become targets of high-profile cyber attacks, how will the City of Chicago continue to effectively defend the City’s technical infrastructure with this added distance between leaders in technology, data and information security?
DoIT currently oversees over $300M in vendor contracts for various services, platforms and technology. Managing these contracts effectively can mean the difference between projects being completed on time and on budget, or failing completely – at taxpayer expense. Given that these contracts are materially different and more technical than the contracts that 2FM typically manages, how will the new office of Asset and Information Management effectively manage them and reduce potential for failed and over-budget IT projects?
What Cities or other governments have successfully done a merger of their IT and facilities & fleet departments? Was an analysis done of the outcome of any of these mergers regarding cost savings and departmental effectiveness?
Managing technology assets is very different from managing physical assets. While it is common to compare digital infrastructure to physical infrastructure, the two are extremely different and require different approaches to management. Effectiveness in one area does not translate to effectiveness in the other. How will the new office of Asset and Information Management maintain the high level of specialization required to do both of these tasks effectively?
When the position of Chief Data Officer (CDO) was created in May of 2011, it was placed within the Mayor’s Office. However, due to the limited ability to leverage technical and procurement resources to fulfill their mandate from the fifth floor, the position was moved to DoIT in 2012 where it has remained since. Other than a new administration, what has meaningfully changed or will change in 2020 that will enable the Chief Data Officer to be effective within the Mayor’s office?
In the private sector and at all levels of government, technology management and procurement is shifting to become more consultative and service-oriented. This shift has been happening in the private sector for some time, and is recently moving into the public sector as the gains in value and efficiency are clear. DoIT’s staff, especially the Chief Design Officer, have demonstrated their ability to do this through the 311 Modernization project. How will the merged office of Asset and Information Management be set up to continue to deliver on service-oriented technology management?
Recruiting top technical and design talent in government is especially difficult, and the City of Chicago is no exception. While Chicago was an early civic technology pioneer, other cities have caught up and are competing for talent. How will Chicago continue to remain competitive under this new structure against other cities with more dedicated digital service teams?
We are committed to helping Chicago continue to lead in open data and government digital services. If there are any follow-up or clarifications needed for these questions, we are happy to provide it.
President, Chi Hack Night
Lightfoot Transition Team - Good Governance
Former Chief Data Officer, City of Chicago
Former CIO, State of Illinois
Former CIO, Cook County
Office of Design and Delivery at the City of Austin
Former Chief Data Officer, City of Los Angeles
Former Chief Innovation Officer, City of Sacramento
Former Co-Executive Director, Code for America
Former Organizer, Chi Hack Night
Former Consultant, Smart Chicago Collaborative
Program Representative, IDES
Former Chief Data Officer, City of Boston
Instructor, Harvard University
Chief Information Officer
Interim Director of Administrative Services
City of Evanston, IL
Former Microsoft Civic Tech Fellow
Director of Data Practices, Center for Government Excellence @ Johns Hopkins University
Former Director of OpenNY, State of New York
Mayor Lightfoot Announces Proposal to Merge Departments of Innovation and Technology And Fleet and Facility Management in 2020 https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2019/october/ProposalDoIT2FMMerger.html
City of Chicago - 2020 Budget Overview
City of Chicago - 2020 Budget Recommendations https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info/2020Budget/2020BudgetRecommendations.pdf
Current Contracts - Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1MDFh7Iy1Lcx_ClZh2P5_yqaR1gXqEICh3CWZgbL1ytA/edit#
Derek Eder’s Transition Team memo on forming a Digital Service Delivery Team https://drive.google.com/file/d/1viuFzJ4udnvafF6Ulz7ugUDgqcXFndZT/view
A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/us/cyberattack-atlanta-ransomware.html
Baltimore city government computer network hit by ransomware attack https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-ci-it-outage-20190507-story.html
Statement from Tom Schenk Jr, Former Chicago Chief Data Officer https://twitter.com/tomschenkjr/status/1182049708199628802?s=19
Statement from Derek Eder, President of Chi Hack Night and Partner DataMade https://twitter.com/derekeder/status/1182031179513581573?s=1
Statement from Rob Lloyd, Chief Information Officer, City of San Jose https://twitter.com/CivicCIO/status/1182110861747314688?s=19
Statement from Abhi Nemani, former City of Los Angeles Chief Data Officer https://twitter.com/abhinemani/status/1182070204009984000?s=19
Statement from Monica Carranza, former CIO Illinois Department of Economic Services https://twitter.com/MonicaTCarranza/status/1182317547129131013?s=09