Baltimore City CIO Chris Tonjes Addresses Tech Community

Chris Tonjes

Yesterday morning, at Baltimore Tech Breakfast’s monthly meeting, Baltimore City CIO, Chris Tonjes stood in front of about 100 attendees and shared his progress and his 2013 priorities with the members of the community.

High on Tonjes’ list is implementing a technology business management system where he will “take technology and run it like a business by aggregating the costs.”  This will allow him to shift costs to be more proactive in the technology field.  “It is really important that we look at everything we are doing to squeeze every bit of savings out of our current projects so we have money for new technology expenditures.  Currently the city spends about $40 million on technology and we should be able to find about $6 million in that budget to invest in new technologies.” says Tonjes, “That is a very low number compared to other cities; about ⅓ of what Washington DC spends on technology and about ¼ of what Howard County spends.”

Tonjes is working to change the culture in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology adding additional technical talent and injecting customer facing skills.  Expanding MOIT’s abilities will help Tonjes work with fellow city agencies and administers and provide “expert level consulting” by assessing that department’s current needs, technologies, and staff and then making the necessary changes for more efficient processes.

“We want to trim our mission and focus on high value projects like data, project management, networks, messaging, public engagement, return on investment and bridging the digital divide” says Tonjes.  “We want to simplify our infrastructure and our application portfolio and ultimately make MOIT the smartest people in the room with the most advanced technologies.”

One of Tonjes’ public successes was adding 55 miles of fiber which increased the city’s bandwidth and strengthened the network allowing the city to provide free wi-fi at city markets. 

Tonjes hopes to engage the community for high level analysis of his current and future projects and hear what people perceive as helpful for e-government advancements in technology.

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