The state of Georgia tied with Texas for the most honors in the 2022 StateScoop 50 Awards announced May 1. Georgia was honored in three categories in the national awards program which recognizes the most influential people in state government and innovative projects that advance services for residents. This year's awards were presented at the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Georgia's winners included State CIO and GTA Executive Director Shawnzia Thomas, Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande, and the Georgia Data Analytics Center. Below are their nomination biographies:
Shawnzia Thomas, State CIO and GTA Executive Director
GoldenGov: State Executive of the Year
She's the first woman named to the post. The first African American too. But Georgia's new state CIO Shawnzia Thomas will be the first to tell you, her focus is on breaking through a different brand of barriers. Appointed in July 2021, she has aggressively cleared a path toward harnessing technology to support agencies and Georgians. To help cement Georgia's place as a technology leader, Shawnzia prioritizes customer service and citizen engagement in using IT to power efficient government. She works to bolster cybersecurity, implement transformational solutions like cloud computing, and ready Georgia to succeed in today's hybrid work model.
Nikhil Deshpande, Chief Digital Officer
State IT Leadership of the Year
Meeting Georgians where they are and providing what they're after. That principal guides Georgia's Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande. Along with the Digital Services Georgia (DSGa) team, Nikhil addresses constituents' increasing preferencing for connecting digitally with their government. To ensure Georgia agencies have digital presence to satisfy that appetite, DSGa collaborates with them to present information and government services plainly and consistently across all digital channels used. The state's GovHub web publishing platform anchors this, hosting 80-plus agency websites. Nikhil and team also provide access to a site performance tool agencies use to optimize website accessibility, content quality, and more.
Georgia Data Analytics Center (GDAC)
State IT Innovation of the Year
Accountability and transparency were primary drivers in the 2021 launch of the Georgia Data Analytics Center (GDAC), a central warehouse of information powered by aggregate data from across state government. The easy-to-consume format makes data and analytics accessible to lawmakers, state agencies, academic institutions, and public and private researchers. More than 10 dashboards are featured, including state property inventory, revenue collections, education funding, and state agency revenues and expenditures. The GDAC data governance committee regularly reviews data access and retention, along with publication policies and procedures. Among planned enhancements are expanding the data inventory and building catalogs, dictionaries, and glossaries.
"The winners of the 2022 StateScoop 50 Awards are truly exceptional leaders and include innovative projects that are setting the stage for even more transformation in government," said Jake Williams, vice president for content and community at StateScoop and EdScoop.
State and local IT community members across the nation nominated more than 1,000 inspiring leaders and influential projects for the awards earlier this year. StateScoop then narrowed the list to nearly 180 finalists, and readers cast more than 3.5 million votes to select the winners.