As part of Industry Insider – Californiaongoing efforts to educate readers about state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, this is the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT officials.
Wesley Major is director of information for the California Department of Finance (DOF), a position he has held since 2008. Major is a 33-year-old former state employee who came aboard in 1989 as an educator corrections at Mule Creek State Prison, for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He joined DOF in 1994 as an Associate Information Systems Analyst – a Microsoft Office Instructor in the department – then became DOF’s first webmaster as a Staff Information Systems Analyst in 1995. He was promoted to Data Processing Manager, DPM II, then DPM III in 2000 before becoming CIO.
Major holds an associate’s degree in sociology from Los Rios Community College and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Education at California State University, Sacramento, where he graduated magna cum laude.
Industry Insider – California: As CIO of your organization, how would you describe your role? How have the role and responsibilities of the CIO evolved in recent years?
Major: As Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Department of Finance, I am responsible for providing leadership and policy direction for the department’s internal IT infrastructure, application portfolio, security, disaster recovery, network infrastructure, application development and customer support. I manage all phases of the development and deployment of the eBudget system, which is an online presentation of the Governor’s Budget and Budget Summary. I represent the department at statewide meetings (semi-annual state CIO meetings) regarding the evolution of IT in state government. Additional responsibilities include managing IT enterprise architecture infrastructure and applications that are critical to achieving the department’s mission. Additional roles include managing and working with the department’s Information Security Officer (ISO), acting as the department’s technology recovery coordinator, managing the technology recovery plan, and submitting annual IT reports to State ISO and the California Department of Technology on behalf of the department. The role and responsibility of the CIO has changed as there is an increased demand to keep up with and stay current with technology (which continues to evolve at an exponential rate), cloud-based service delivery , increased focus on security and data loss. prevention. Such changes can present challenges with respect to managing existing resources, meeting tighter deadlines, streamlining the delivery of systems/applications in time to meet business needs, and protecting and securing enterprise architecture against cybersecurity attacks. That said, the good news is that these changes are manageable as long as the CIO maintains a dynamic, not static plan to manage and embrace the change.
Industry Insider – California: Does your organization have a strategic plan, and can we access it by hyperlink? What role do you personally play in drafting this strategic plan?
Major: The Ministry of Finance has a strategic plan and it is on the public finance website. The strategic plan is currently being updated; however, you can link to our existing plan which can be found at the bottom of the “Quick Links” homepage. The development of the strategic plan involved a team of managers representing a cross-section of Finance business lines. I played an integral, active and equal role in providing technology-related input, ideas and editing, in regards to the development of the various sections.
Industry Insider – California: How often do you update your organization’s corporate catalog?
Major: Although I/we do not have an official business catalog, our data is managed and documented, all source locations are known, business owners and the roles they play are documented; resource allocations are updated as needed and data is shared across multiple systems. As with most things, it is always possible to implement tools that will improve business processes.
Industry Insider – California: What are the major initiatives or upcoming projects? What types of development opportunities and tenders should we watch over the next six to 12 months?
Major: My main focus right now is to increase our footprint of cloud-based services to host cloud applications that we develop in-house while continuously improving our cybersecurity posture. This is my goal for the foreseeable future.
Industry Insider – California: How do you define “digital transformation?” Where is your organization in this process and how will you know when it is complete?
Major: Digital transformation is the ability to modify existing and/or legacy business processes that are outdated by re-engineering, mapping and changing the way data is stored and accessed; and transforming said processes to be more efficient where content is managed more efficiently, end users are more productive, and processes are no longer cumbersome. Approximately 85% of legacy business processes have been digitally transformed.
Industry Insider – California: What is your estimated IT budget and how many employees do you have? What is the overall budget?
Major: Total number of IT employees – 45. Overall department budget – $92,422,000. Estimated cost for the current year of 45 IT staff – $8,224,000. Estimated IT costs for the current year, excluding staff costs – $2,504,000.
Industry Insider – California: How do you prefer to be contacted by suppliers, including via social networks such as LinkedIn? How could suppliers better inform themselves before meeting you?
Major: The best way to contact me is by email. I recommend that suppliers educate themselves by browsing our public website as there is a plethora of information about what we do.
Industry Insider – California: As part of your tenure in this position, what project or achievement are you most proud of?
Major: There are several of which I am proud. The California Budget (eBudget) system, which hosts the Governor’s Proposed Budget, May Review, and Enacted Budget. This system was developed under pressure during its implementation in 2008 and in a short period of time. It has gone through several iterations and improvements, with the latest being moved to the Azure cloud. The latest achievement relates to information on the COVID-19 pandemic hosted on our public website. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government passed legislation providing funding to states to help them respond to and recover from this unprecedented public health emergency. The Department of Finance has been tasked with tracking federal funding by program and by fund. These projects were very large with tight deadlines, uncertain and often changing requirements, and involved coordination between multiple teams and departments. We have developed the Federal Coronavirus Funding Tracking (FCFT), Coronavirus Relief Funding (CRF) and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SFRF) systems in partnership with business side of house subject matter experts and corporate IT teams and special development in support of tracking federal funding by program and fund.
Industry Insider – California: If you could change one thing about IT procurement, what would it be?
Major: CalNet contracts and negotiated service offerings. Contracts can be confusing, and some have limited procurement services and product offering options. Additionally, some contract negotiations seem to fail or do not go far enough in providing enough options when purchasing services and products. A comprehensive review and analysis of existing CalNet contracts to determine where they fall short and lessons learned can/should be the driving force when renewing existing contracts and pursuing new ones.
Industry Insider – California: What do you read to stay up to date with developments in the govtech/SLED sector?
Major: IT-related bills, GovTech*Today articles, Microsoft articles, Flipboard IT news, new product announcements from IT vendors, and a host of IT articles received via email and IT forums.
Industry Insider – California: What are your hobbies and what do you like to read?
Major: Riding my Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle, which I rode in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, Heartland which included states such as Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Washington , Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, the Smoky Mountains tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap (popular destination for runners) to name a few, and a host of other states. I enjoy fishing, trying to play golf (the jury is still out on that), doing home improvement projects, working on my vehicles, reading and studying the Bible, reading about historical events and current events and browse the books in my home library.
*Government Technology magazine is a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider – California.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for style and brevity.