Running an IT Enterprise Like a Baseball Team Owner


Connecting state and local government leaders

Virginia CIO Nelson Moe is helping the Commonwealth turn the page and reinvent its IT infrastructure.

When Virginia Chief Information Officer Nelson Moe tells me, “Things are changing quite a bit” when it comes to information technology in the commonwealth, he’s not kidding.

After a massive 13-year contract with Northrop Grumman to manage the state’s IT infrastructure ended in a messy, court-facilitated divorce, the Virginia Information Technology Agency is taking a new approach.

VITA has hired SAIC to serve as its multisourcing service integrator, or MSI. MSIs have become increasingly used by states to manage complex web of vendors that run the business of state IT. The role of the MSI, as Moe put it in an excellent baseball analogy, is “like Dusty Baker from the Nationals.”

“He’s the manager, okay? So I’ve got a manager. His job is to have the team play baseball. I’m also going to have a contract, as the owner … not only with the general manager, SAIC in this case, but every single position player—every single service tower. So the manager is going to tell them to play baseball, but if the third baseman can’t make the throw out at first, we’re going to go look for a different third baseman.”

From Moe’s perspective, the team approach doesn’t end there. The vendors who VITA bring in need to understand how to work together.

“We look for best of breed but we also ability to work in that cohesive environment,” Moe explained. “That’s the key; that’s secret sauce—creating that ecosystem for success that’ll be it. So I’m looking for companies that knowing go into that and understand that it’s a shared risk reward model.”

Moe also is finding new ways to scout talent, through the state’s new Innovation Center for Excellence. He describes it as, “a safe place, for lack of a better phrase, for suppliers to demonstrate their technologies or the value proposition.”

The Innovation Center for Excellence allows VITA and state agencies to hear from private sector companies outside of the normal procurement process, allowing them to learn about technology applications that may be valuable to state operations without committing to a formal process.

“We have gotten a lot interest from the Virginia higher education entities that want to provide data analytics capability—specifically after the Charlottesville event,” Moe told Route Fifty.

Check out Route Fifty’s video interview above for more on how Virginia is moving forward when it comes to information technology. 

Mitch Herckis is Senior Director of Programs for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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