Ed Toner

Blog: Driving Innovation and Continuous Improvement through Digital Government

I am excited to announce that I will be retained by Governor-elect Jim Pillen in my current role and look forward to continuing our goals of innovation and continuous improvement.

"Ed shares my vision of running government like a business," said Governor-elect Pillen. "All of us from the business world understand the importance of technology for our future. We have to make sure government makes significant technological advances in the next year so that we can be innovative and create more value for the Nebraska taxpayers."

I could not have imagined the pride I feel working for the State of Nebraska. I will forever be grateful to Governor Ricketts who made it possible when he appointed me to the position of Chief Information Officer for the State of Nebraska. I am grateful for his trust in my abilities and his support for the changes we have made across the technology landscape of the State. Throughout my career in both the private and public sectors, I have never been this proud of the team that made it happen.

It’s the end of the year and a good time for self-reflection. Self-reflection is a necessary exercise and should include both the good and the bad decisions made throughout the year. What has been accomplished since my appointment by Governor Ricketts in 2015, and what still needs to be accomplished?

To ensure we make significant technological advances we must focus on the creation of a digital government framework essential to create additional value for Nebraska taxpayers. The transition to digital government services can no longer be delayed. We have made much progress over the past few years in this area, but we need to make this an Agency priority with tangible value-driven outcomes. Optimizing the numerous existing digital services and discovering all additional opportunities to deliver services digitally.

My self-reflection acknowledged my obsession with process improvement which has resulted in the strategic use of data and emerging technologies to provide value and achieve our Mission: Respect for the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska. I also thought about where we could enhance the analysis of the data we collect to assist our objective of Transitioning to Digital Government.

I have often asked myself where this process improvement fixation came from. Why does change excite me and not cause the fear and anxiety that I read about? The answer is very easy, it was my job for the early part of my career in manufacturing as an Industrial Engineer. Industrial Engineers are responsible for process improvement to increase productivity and enhance efficiency. I either reduced production costs and improved product quality through implementing change, or I could not justify my position. My fear was not change; it was losing my job if I did not make sufficient value-added change.

I was taught the practices of W. Edwards Deming (1900 – 1993) and his 14 points (management practices) and Total Quality Management (TQM) to improve an organization’s products, services, and processes. I did not internalize what they meant until I started my career and realized it was much more than just a list of practices or processes. I don’t agree with all 14 points, but I do think several have merit.

To me the 5th of Deming’s points is the most meaningful: Constantly improve every process involved in planning, production, and service.

As always, I appreciate your hard work and respect for the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska, which you show each and every day.

Ed Toner