CalVet’s CIO talks technology

Isaiah mugIsaiah Mall is CalVet’s Chief Information Officer, responsible for overseeing the agency’s Information Services Division (ISD). He was appointed to the position in May. We asked him about the role of technology in supporting CalVet’s operations.

What’s your vision for managing technology at CalVet?

I want to support the agency’s mission, in the digital age, by providing high-quality Information Technology (IT) services that are meaningful, innovative, reliable and secure.

What are your top priorities?

My job is to ensure the Department’s IT efforts adhere to its strategic plan and vision. In February 2018, ISD adopted the Statewide Technology Strategic Plan, “Vision 2020,” to highlight our commitment to the statewide direction for IT. At the highest level, my priorities are driven by strategic goals and objectives defined in these two plans.

I like to think of our agency strategic plan as our guide for “building the right thing” and the statewide IT strategic plan as our guide for “building the thing right.”

One of my top goals is to maximize cybersecurity. Two years ago, I helped establish an information security office at CalVet. Just last year we underwent a comprehensive information security audit by the California Department of Technology and we are implementing the audit recommendations. In addition, we are actively engaged in other statewide initiatives for cybersecurity, while also tracking trends and developments at the federal level.

I also want to build a highly qualified, high-performing IT team. We are fortunate to have extremely dedicated, capable and responsive staff, and I will ensure continued investment in their development and growth, as we maneuver through changing trends in industry and statewide technology.

Finally, we will increasingly utilize common technologies across the state and focus on leveraging cloud-based offerings.

Are there any exciting new technology projects on the horizon?

I expect our CalVet homes to have some of the greatest needs over the next few years. We are exploring newer technologies for security, nurse call, and wander management. Because we are a state agency, there are governing laws, policies and processes for the acquisition and implementation of such solutions. ISD’s job includes “knowing the ropes” and navigating the path from identified need to working product.

We are actively progressing through the state’s Project Approval Lifecycle towards modernizing our EHR system. We anticipate a cloud-based system in a Software as a Service (SaaS) environment that will improve clinical, financial and administrative operations as they relate to CalVet homes.

We are also working towards redesigning our website in accordance with the new state template and expect to bring significant improvements to its overall structure, usability and compliance to accessibility standards.

How do veterans benefit from the work that you do?

Veterans benefit greatly from the work we do in ISD, as we support divisions within the agency that directly provide services. Quality care for our veterans is an utmost priority. While IT staff do not provide care directly, we help clinicians and other professionals provide care. I will ensure that we continually equip all resident care staff with technology solutions to meet their needs.

CalVet’s website, last redesigned in 2014, is an important tool for connecting veterans and their families to available services and benefits. The current website is significantly more intuitive than the one it replaced. The information is organized and searchable, based on the needs of the user as opposed to organizational structure. It allows people to sign up for our different mailing lists, to receive CalVet news, or information that is specific to women veterans or veterans living in specific regions in the state.

We also support the infrastructure and connectivity that connects the agency internally, as well as to the outside world. We maintain end-user devices such as phones, workstations and laptops that are used at CalVet headquarters, eight CalVet homes, and three veterans’ cemeteries. In addition, we support a wide variety of specialized applications, such as those used by our CalVet home loan program, our Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, pharmacy management system, resident nutrition management system and tools for department-wide collaboration such as virtual teleconference, and SharePoint.

About

Mall joined CalVet in 2013, and has served in the roles of project director, chief of applications and projects, and Chief Technology Officer. He previously worked at the at the California State Personnel Board (SPB) and the California Department of Technology, where he managed a large portfolio and provided oversight on numerous medium to large state IT projects. Mall serves on the Information Technology Executive Council, led by the California Department of Technology. He holds a BS in Computer Science from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a graduate of the CSUS Leadership for the Government Executive (LGE) Program.

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