Improving the Citizen Experience with NASCIO Past President Stephanie Dedmon

November 29, 2023 NASCIO Episode 108
Improving the Citizen Experience with NASCIO Past President Stephanie Dedmon
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Improving the Citizen Experience with NASCIO Past President Stephanie Dedmon
Nov 29, 2023 Episode 108

Alex and Amy talk with NASCIO's most recent past president about her president's initiative report on the digital citizen experience. She also reflects on her term as president this past year.

Find the report here:

You can find the transcript to this episode here:

Show Notes Transcript

Alex and Amy talk with NASCIO's most recent past president about her president's initiative report on the digital citizen experience. She also reflects on her term as president this past year.

Find the report here:

You can find the transcript to this episode here:


citizens, state, year, president, report, talk, stephanie, recommendations, staff, cio, digital, cios, interviews, doug, biggest, thanksgiving, app, topic, surprised, celebrated


Stephanie Dedmon, Amy Glasscock, Alex Whitaker


Amy Glasscock  00:05

Hi, and welcome to NASCIO voices where we talk all things state IT. I'm Amy Glasscock. In Lexington, Kentucky. And I'm Alex Whitaker in Washington DC. Today we're talking with our most recent NASCIO past president, Tennessee State CIO Stephanie Dedmon. About her presidential initiative on the citizen digital experience, as well as her time as NASCIO president. Stephanie, welcome back to NASCIO Voices and thanks so much for joining us.


Stephanie Dedmon  00:27

Thank you. It's great to be here. Again, thanks for having me. 


Amy Glasscock  00:31

Sure. So my colleague, Eric Sweden, and I worked with you for a good part of the past year on this project, and the report that came out of it. So curious to know what made you choose this topic of the citizen digital experience for your presidential initiative? 


Stephanie Dedmon  00:48

Well, you know, to be honest, it was partially a little bit selfish in terms of my state. We have certainly delivered and implemented several digital government services. But we have not really come at it from an overall strategic viewpoint. And you know, what should we be doing long term to deliver a more seamless service delivery to our citizens. And so I felt like if our state was still navigating the best course forward that that was probably true for a number of states. And just felt like the timing was right to revisit the topic. It was interesting. When I first talked to Doug Robinson about the topic, he said, "Well, you know, we did a study, way back when in 2000." I think it was I get this date confused all the time. But he said, "You know, it'd be interesting to do a comparison and see how far we've come." And so it just sort of all came together, that the timing was right, for the CIO community for us to do an updated study, if you will. 


Amy Glasscock  01:56

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, Doug says that that report was like started in 2000. But it was finalized in 2001. So it is confusing, but when you when you first looked at that 2001 report, was your reaction that we've come a long way since then, or that we still had a long way to go?


Stephanie Dedmon  02:16

You know, it's very interesting, because when I read the report, I was I thought it was very visionary for how long ago it was, and the things that we were researching and finding, together with you and Eric, were very similar to the thoughts and direction all those years ago. So I was surprised at how relevant all the findings or recommendations were in 2001, how much they still were very much relevant in 2023. So I guess I answered your question. We made progress. But we still have a ways to go. But the biggest surprise for me was how on track, they were so many years ago with what we still needed to do now and where we were headed now. 


Amy Glasscock  03:04

Yeah, one of the things that I found fascinating as I was, at the end of our process, I was mapping our recommendations from the 2001 report with our recommendations from the 2023 report to kind of see how they compared and there was such a strong focus on the money saving benefits of digital government in 2001. And that wasn't something that came up at all in our 2023 interviews. And I think in that sense, we've come a long way. Because nobody needs convincing that digital government is a benefit to the government or the citizens anymore. We were having deeper conversations in our interviews. And so I'm interested to know if you were inspired by anything that we found in our interviews and research that made you think about the citizen customer experience differently. 


Stephanie Dedmon  03:48

Well, I like your point, and it's valid. And I also think that that we generally are able to focus on technological innovation, because it's the right thing to do. And it's what we need to do. And it's it's no longer always about saving money. That always should be a target. But in this day and age, it's very, very hard to do, because we've automated so much we've we've re engineered processes, we have cut staff, you know, to be lean and mean. And so saving money is is no longer the driver. So I think I think that's progress. In terms of your question of anything that was nothing really jumps out at me other than just our citizens want this and demand it and deserve it. And I think that case is stronger today than it was obviously 21 years ago, 22 years ago. And you know, using an Amazon analogy or a Amazon shopping experience, or we in our state we joke about Sonic--the Sonic app because a couple of our key leadership folks talk about how easy it is to get Sonic and just deal with an app. So I think it's it's so much more prevalent in our in our citizens are more advanced and more savvy. And so it's, you know, it's never been a better time to leverage all of the things that are happening for our citizens as a way to convince legislators and decision makers, that digital government is what we should be doing.


Amy Glasscock  05:21

Yeah, that's, that's a really good point. Now, citizens are expecting it, maybe back in 2000, 2001, we were dragging them along, begrudgingly to start, you know, going online to do some things. So yeah, that's a good point. And so finally, around this topic, what has been your biggest challenge to achieving, like the ideal customer experience? And what has been your biggest win? 


Stephanie Dedmon  05:45

Well, and we're still very much on the journey. We're in Tennessee, I would say to your first question, really just one of the things we're not yet doing that we're continuing to push, I think is an opportunity is to bring citizens together in in focus groups. And really, Bill we don't we don't do that a lot in our state. And, and I think, I think there's just so many opportunities to hear from our citizens and get their input and really make this about how they want to do business with the state. So often, we think we know what they want. And, of course, we are all citizens, ourselves. But we're technologists. So our viewpoint is a bit skewed. So I think we have a huge opportunity to do more, bringing our citizens to the table and asking for their input on an ongoing basis. And in terms of our biggest win, in Tennessee would be our MyTN app, our award winning, mighty an app, it's you guys have heard us talk about in Tennessee for four or five years, and it is very much a reality. Now we have over sixty, almost seventy services, we're still growing the user base and have a huge opportunity to do that. And we're actually doing more marketing, which, aside from from tourism, and you know, maybe other a couple other areas, and in our state, we don't actually market a whole lot. And so the fact that we were able to get some dedicated dollars to, to launch a marketing campaign means a lot to us. So that's our biggest win here. But we've got so many more opportunities and look forward to continuing our journey.


Amy Glasscock  07:34

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and people can find the report on our website, and we have a list of recommendations based on our interviews. So I encourage everyone to check it out. Yeah, absolutely. So you know, this initiative was certainly not the only thing that you had going on. I know what's been a very busy year. So can you tell us a little bit about your time as president of NASCIO over the last year, and what you're most proud of, of accomplishing this president?


Stephanie Dedmon  07:59

Sure. Well, it was a year that went by so fast, but it was really an honor to serve as NASCIO president, and just to learn so much more about what other states are doing and how NASCIO can continue to support our IT community and our state CIOs. I knew, of course, that we had a great team and great NASCIO staff and very dedicated CIs, but I got to see that so much more as president just being involved in, you know, working with with new CIOs and bringing them along, and then just leading NASCIO. Of course, this you guys, the staff the NASCIO staff make it so easy. And whenever I would get a compliment about what we were doing, you would you know, it's quick to say I can take very little credit. We've got great support and a great team, you know, an executive committee and, and leadership and certainly the NASCIO staff. So I think it was a great year, and I really enjoyed serving. I joked that I was going to tell Jim Weaver he had to wait a year that I wanted to serve another year, but I thought better of it.


Amy Glasscock  09:03

(Laughing) He might be a little disappointed. So what surprised you most as president? I mean, you've mentioned sort of work with new CIOs and some other things. But is there anything that really jumps out or something you didn't expect? 


Stephanie Dedmon  09:14

I would say and Doug tried to warn me, Doug Robinson, warned me about this, that whatever I said in the press, would often be attributed to (NASCIO) because I was NASCIO president. And so he gently just said, you know, whether you recognize it or not, you represent NASCIO in almost everything that you do. And my point in that is just--requests for interviews or requests for my opinion, or even, you know, some direct requests "can NASCIO support this." I think it was a little surprised that people really thought that's the way it worked. You know, NASCIO is a is a team and a brand and an organization that is about us--state CIOs. And I think that would be the thing that surprised me the most, but it was I was prepared. And it wasn't really an issue. Just interesting. 


Amy Glasscock  10:09

Yeah. So we mentioned Jim Weaver. CIO of North Carolina who is your successor, but he has some pretty big shoes to fill. What advice do you have for him as he takes over the reigns?


Stephanie Dedmon  10:19

That's a good question that I think my advice would be just to always remember the the honor that it is to serve as president and to my earlier point that not only does he represent the state of North Carolina, but he now also represents as do others, but certainly as president represents the face of NASCIO. I also would tell him that, you know, to always, or to never hesitate to reach out to Doug and any of his staff, everyone is so helpful and supportive. And NASCIO is a great asset. And even though he's president when he needs help, he can ask for it. And there will be very many people there to support him. 


Amy Glasscock  10:59

Alright. Well, Stephanie, as you know, from your previous episodes, we can't let you go without asking a few fun questions about your life outside of work and a segment that we call the lightning round. Are you ready?


Stephanie Dedmon  11:11

Yes, I'm ready. I think I'm ready.


Amy Glasscock  11:14

All right. So we know that you're an avid runner. Do you have any big races coming up? I


Stephanie Dedmon  11:18

I don't. I did just run a turkey trot Thanksgiving morning. Yeah, it was okay. And enjoyed that. But I haven't signed up for any races. As we've discussed. I have run a several half marathons, but I am waffling as to whether I have that kind of training in me anymore. But yeah, five, six, seven miles is a long run and is keeping me where I want to be.


Amy Glasscock  11:42

Yeah. 10 K's long for Turkey.  That's what I was thinking.


Stephanie Dedmon  11:46

Well, it enabled me to eat what pretty much what I want to Thanksgiving.


Amy Glasscock  11:51

I think I got about five minutes of exercise in that day, and I still ate whatever I want! Good for you. On a related note, do you have a favorite song to run to you these days. 



Maybe not entirely appropriate. But I think it's "A Beer Never Broke My Heart." I  may have that title wrong, but it's got a good running, you know, a running beat to it. Yeah.


Amy Glasscock  12:12

You never know. We'll find those good running beats on. 


Stephanie Dedmon  12:15



Amy Glasscock  12:15

Okay. And so as we said, we just celebrated Thanksgiving and the holidays are upon us. Do you have any fun plans as the year comes to a close? 


Stephanie Dedmon  12:23

Oh, gosh, just taking some time off, you know, during the holidays to be with family and friends and, and recharge, you know, looking forward to the next year. And but but nothing other than, you know, obviously celebrating and enjoying the the meaning of the season. Just family and friends. 


Amy Glasscock  12:42

That's great. Well, Stephanie, thanks so much for taking the time not only to talk with us today, but for your service to NASCIO over the last year and the years before that on the executive committee. And the year ahead on the executive committee. We know it takes a lot of extra time and work on top of an already very full schedule as a state CIO. So just know that Alex and I and the entire NASCIO team really appreciate you. 


Stephanie Dedmon  13:05

Thank you.


Amy Glasscock  13:05



Stephanie Dedmon  13:06

You guys are great. And it's been an honor, and I enjoy it. So appreciate you.


Amy Glasscock  13:14

Thanks. Well, we'll see you soon. Thanks, Stephanie.


Stephanie Dedmon  13:17

Thank you.


Alex Whitaker  13:17

Thank you. Thanks again for listening NASCIO Voices. NASCIO Voices is a production of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.


Amy Glasscock  13:26

 I'll put a link to the report on the digital citizen experience in the show notes and you can also find it at in our resource center.


Alex Whitaker  13:33

And we'll be back in two weeks with Eric Sweden to talk about the NASCIO top 10 priorities list for 2024.


Amy Glasscock  13:39

He may even play some music. Talk with you then.