California’s Cutting-Edge Innovations Shine in State IT Recognition Awards

Published On: September 29, 2023

California’s public sector innovators and ingenuity-minded agencies are showcasing a host of new apps, tools and progressive techniques to reshape the state’s services.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has unveiled its list of outstanding finalists for its esteemed State IT Recognition Awards. The awards are a celebration of invention and excellence, recognizing the remarkable strides made in the realm of information technology.

In a rigorous selection process, NASCIO identified 31 remarkable finalists and nearly 100 nominees nationally, spread across 10 distinct categories. The categories cover a wide spectrum of achievements, reflecting the diverse and transformative power of IT. The spotlight shines on projects and initiatives hailing from NASCIO member states and territories, each one demonstrating a commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of society.

“The award nominations showcase the use of information technology to address critical business problems, more easily connect citizens to their government, improve business processes and create new opportunities that improve the lives of citizens,” NASCIO wrote in a press release.

California departments represented eight of these honorees, with two departments chosen as finalists in the categories of Enterprise IT Management Initiatives and Data Management, Analytics and Visualization.

Within the category of Enterprise IT Management Initiatives, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) became a finalist for its Ed-Tech initiative in 2021. The program brought 21st Century learning to 33 institutions across the state, providing digital literacy support and access to laptops for more than 30,000 incarcerated students. This initiative involved developing new infrastructure, in-house training efforts, policies, and collaborating with external partners — including community colleges and university systems — to prepare incarcerated individuals for success after release.

“Ed-Tech has been a highly successful initiative and CDCR is very excited about what can be accomplished in the future as more devices are distributed, more education programs are added and our network expands,” said Kristin Montgomery, CDCR’s director of enterprise information services.

The state’s second finalist, vying to win the category of Data Management, Analytics and Visualization, received praise for its work in emergency management. California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), in partnership with various departments, created a cloud-based data visualization tool called the All-Hazards Dashboard (AHD). The cutting-edge system provides a comprehensive and real-time view of emergency data from multiple sources. State officials said that these real-time insights enable CalHHS leadership to make proactive decisions during emergencies, reduce manual processes, break down data silos, enhance data accuracy and transparency, and facilitate interdepartmental collaboration for improved emergency response and coordination.

“California is the country’s most populous state with varied geography and hazards unlike any other, from flooding and wildfires to earthquakes and public safety power shutoffs,” said Kattya Trinh, CalHHS’ All-Hazards Dashboard product owner. “California’s large population and increasingly unpredictable hazards require decision-makers to have a comprehensive picture of community impacts to provide fast emergency response.”

California’s two finalists may earn a top spot in their respective categories in October at the upcoming NASCIO Annual Conference, where NASCIO officials are slated to announce winners. The organization also intends to honor all nominees at the conference for their work tackling critical business state challenge, streamlining business operations, and, most importantly, creating new opportunities that improve quality of life for state residents.

NASCIO has leveraged the support of more than 80 volunteer judges – taken from its membership – that have meticulously evaluated the nearly 100 submissions. Their collective efforts led to the unveiling of three finalists in each of the categories — with a few exceptions where ties made it impossible to choose just three.

Stay tuned for more updates as we highlight California’s nominees in the coming days, or read deeper about each nominee and their project below:

California Finalists and Nominees


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) – Finalist

Project: Technology for Incarcerated Population

Description: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) launched the Ed-Tech Initiative in 2021 with the goal of bringing 21st Century learning to 33 correctional institutions across the state. This initiative aimed to provide digital literacy support and a 1-to-1 laptop ratio for over 30,000 incarcerated students, requiring the procurement of infrastructure, technology, policy development, and training. The project, completed in-house, focused on enhancing educational and rehabilitative content with academic integrity, emphasizing the importance of technology in preparing incarcerated individuals for success upon release while addressing security concerns unique to the correctional system.

Read NASCIO nomination.


California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) – Finalist

Project: All-Hazards Dashboard

Description: The All-Hazards Dashboard (AHD) is a cutting-edge, cloud-based tool developed by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) to address the unique challenges posed by California’s diverse hazards, including floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and power shutoffs. This state-of-the-art data visualization platform offers real-time insights from multiple sources, enabling swift decision-making during emergencies, reducing manual processes to minutes, breaking down data silos, and enhancing data accuracy and transparency. It’s a vital tool that not only improves emergency response times but also facilitates interdepartmental collaboration and preparedness for future disasters, setting a valuable example for other states facing similar challenges.

Read NASCIO nomination.


California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERs) – Nominee

Project: Health Demographic Profile Project

Description: CalPERS, a major public employee health benefits purchaser, initiated the Health Demographic Profile (HDP) project to address health disparities among its 1.5 million members, who spend over $10 billion annually on healthcare. Through a self-reporting app, members share their race, ethnicity, preferred language (REaL), sexual orientation, and gender identity (SOGI) data, enabling CalPERS to identify and tackle disparities, enhance care quality, and promote equitable access to healthcare services.

Read NASCIO nomination.


State of California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) – Nominee

Project: Work for California Hiring & Recruiting Campaign

Description: The Work for California (W4CA) campaign, a short-term pilot from January to March 2023, aimed to attract new talent to State service and enhance statewide recruitment and hiring practices. It focused on increasing job applications to combat declining numbers, reducing high vacancy rates in departments, and streamlining the application-to-hire process, with some departments experiencing notable increases in job applications during the campaign, such as the Department of Technology, which saw an average increase of 17 applications per job posting compared to the previous year.

Read NASCIO nomination.


State of California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) – Nominee

Project: Benefits Recommender: Shortening the distance between awareness and access for Californians

Description: The Benefits Recommender is an innovative, user-centric web widget implemented by the Office of Data and Innovation in California to connect individuals with additional assistance programs they may be eligible for, such as unemployment benefits, using analytics and a human-centered design approach. This lightweight and easily integrated tool suggests relevant benefits based on the context of an individual’s assistance service application, streamlining the process, improving access, and achieving a high click-through rate. The tool has resulted in over 4,300 new benefits applications during its pilot phase.

Read NASCIO nomination.


State of California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) – Nominee

Project: The Golden State Goes Green: Climate Action Website

Description: The California Climate Action website serves as a comprehensive resource hub for Californians interested in addressing climate change in their daily lives, offering tools and knowledge to demonstrate the financial benefits of environmentally friendly practices, particularly in the context of sustainable home improvements and electric vehicle adoption. Beyond information, the platform actively supports users by providing access to incentive programs and funding opportunities, empowering individuals and organizations to implement climate-friendly initiatives more readily. The website’s collaborative development, rapid launch, and user-focused design exemplify an effective initiative in combating climate change and serve as a model for other regions seeking to address environmental challenges.

Read NASCIO nomination.


California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) – Nominee

Project: Registered Service Agency Portal

Description: The Registered Service Agency Portal, administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is a modern online platform that replaced an outdated legacy database system. It allows California’s county inspectors, registered service agencies, and service agents to access and manage data related to the registration and licensing of over 500 Service agencies and 2,000 service agents that install and repair commercial weighing and measuring devices. The portal streamlines processes, including online payments, automated notifications, and data updates, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in equipment inspection, and ultimately, saves time and money for businesses and citizens by ensuring accurate measurements.

Read NASCIO nomination.


California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) – Nominee

Project: Consolidated Scheduling Tools

Description: The Consolidated Scheduling Tools project emerged from California’s efforts to improve healthcare services for incarcerated individuals, particularly those with substance use disorders. It aimed to address scheduling conflicts and enhance comprehensive schedule visibility within the California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) systems. This project was divided into three sub projects: the Consolidated Patient and Provider Calendar (CPPC), the Mental Health Group Scheduling Utility (MHGSU), and the Dental Scheduling Utility (DSU), providing practical tools for healthcare schedulers to improve scheduling efficiency, view patient calendars comprehensively, and access mental health group sessions listings. The project improved healthcare accessibility for incarcerated patients by providing healthcare schedulers with practical ways to efficiently manage scheduling conflicts with non-healthcare events attended by patients, ensuring timely access to medical, mental health, and dental care within correctional institutions.

Read NASCIO nomination.


About the Author: Jason Shueh

Jason Shueh is a journalist and content strategist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work focuses on the tech sector, digital innovation, smart city growth, and entrepreneurship. He can be reached at jason at