After a long day of driving, Iowa’s plow drivers used to have to drive back to a garage to enter their time on a timesheet. The drive could be a considerable number of miles, said the state’s chief data officer (CDO). But not anymore.

“One of the biggest changes is the availability to access the information 24/7,” said Rensch, speaking during an online event Thursday hosted by Governing. Rensch called the new system “very intuitive front-end.”

After a move to a cloud-based system, Matthew Rensch, Iowa’s first CDO, says the drivers can now enter the information on a mobile app. The time saved is one advantage of the new system, said Rensch, who formerly worked for the state’s department of transportation (DOT).

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The old system at the Iowa DOT was a “mainframe, COBOL-based system that had been in operation about 45 years,” Rensch said. The old system was highly dependent on people’s labor, said Rensch, describing a process where payroll would take two or three days for the department’s 2,800 employees. In November 2017, that began to change at the department as the new technology was brought on board to update systems.



Rensch was responsible for the DOT’s two-phase effort to bring HR, Payroll, and Finance onto one system. He led the effort at the department until he became the state’s CDO late last year. The state is undergoing a similar two-phase effort at the state level under the governor’s direction, he said. The state’s 60 agencies support 3.1 million constituents.

The state’s transition to the cloud just began last November, Rensch said, and “the most exciting part of this is planning and analytics” for the budgeting process.

“We have more data than we did in our old system,” said Rensch, calling the cloud-system “a better way to make decisions.”

Over half of the states have a CDO, or equivalent position, according to data compiled by Governing in January.

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