Q&A with Miami-Dade County’s new CIO

By Maria Derchi Russo

Miami-Dade Mayor Danielle Levine Cava recently announced the appointment of Margaret Brisbane as Chief Information Officer / Information Technology Department Director. Margaret has held the position of interim director of the Information Technology Department since February.

Brisbane, originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, has spent fourteen years working within the county. She is the first woman and person of color to hold the role.

We caught up with Margaret to learn more about her plans for the role.

Congrats on your appointment as Chief Information Officer! For those that may not be familiar, what does CIO for a county do?

In my position as the CIO, I am responsible for leading a department of 900 IT professionals that provide a technology support for all 26 departments of the County.  This includes innovating applications to serve the citizens, delivering digital transformation, implementing enterprise solutions that serves the entire County. Our team also manages the network, radio systems and data center, as well as ensures that there is a robust cybersecurity program to protect the County and citizens.

What is your vision for this role moving forward? What would you like to see changed/implemented?

My goal is to extend the reach of County technology to our citizens, to improve access to County data and services, promoting County services to citizens and enabling easier interaction. Through our tech coalition, we hope to hear from citizens ways in which we can enhance County service delivery using technology as the enabler.

Beyond the day-to-day which is essential, my vision is to grow Innovation Leadership that is representative of our community. With input from the GovTech coalition, the Office of the CIO will bring back tech engagement to ensure that the MiamiTech momentum is not lost. One essential way to do this is to rethink the way we prototype and partner with the startup community. There is a robust industry budding in growth to support the worthwhile innovation that you see in government today from the use of artificial intelligence to augmented reality, the residents of Miami-Dade County are hungry for new and easy ways of interacting with the services we offer.

What are you currently working on?

We are juggling many technology initiatives for the County.  Most recently, the County implemented an ERP systems for finance and supply chain.  This system has created a new way of doing business and introduced significant improvements in the business processes.  As a part of the modernization initiatives, the County will also be implementing a new criminal justice system serving over 150 agencies. As you can imagine, supporting 26 different lines of business means that we are partnering with the departments to ensure that we are meeting their priorities, modernizing their systems and digitally transforming the way we deliver services to citizens.

Critical in this community is to keep everyone connected. From mobility to social services, we are reaching new heights. We want to create experiences that make it easy to find what you need and get to where you want to go faster. That is the nature of the growing culture and we must keep with the times. As such, as the CIO, I will be working across the different departments and agencies to make Miami-Dade County a SMART one interacting and collaborating with municipalities as well as the private sector to achieve this.

While many know you for your 14 years working at the county, you spent 20 years working in the private sector for brands like Burger King and Diageo, to name a few. What led you to move into the public sector?

I loved working for Burger King Corporation, and it provided me many opportunities on a global scale.  The key driver for moving to the public sector, was my need to keep my hands on the operational components of technology.  At BK, we outsourced all IT and my role became that of a Service Delivery Director.  I missed the operational role and in my County position, there are endless opportunities to improve the way we deliver services and to engage the community in the dialogue around how technology can be leveraged to improve County services.

Working in the private sector also gave me a unique perspective that we need to think outside the box to keep moving with the times and competitive in our needs from GovTech partners. It is critical that we are not stale and help drive an innovation economy locally. We want to ensure that we assist in efforts of retaining talent and offer local opportunities for work and partnerships. The path to growing together has to start somewhere and now is the time that I am leading the organization to rethink the way we acquire talent and cultivate it from within. From my years of experience, I feel confident that we will push this as one of my top priorities.

Any asks from the tech and startup community?

As a County serving 2.8 million residents, we do not claim to know all the needs of our community and so we will be engaging with our community to Daniella Lavine Cava and also meeting the needs of the citizens.

I have spent the last month listening and meeting with leaders in the community to think through what our local industry needs and what we need in return. The road to get where we want to be will not happen overnight. And as the dust settles from the recent momentum in MiamiTech, the community will have to unite to ensure our innovation growth is sustainable and real. I commit to engaging the tech and startup community so that there is an open and consistent dialogue to ensure we are successful in all of our endeavors to make Miami-Dade County the home to a bright future filled with opportunities for all.

 

 

Maria Derchi Russo