Technology Propels the Nation’s First Digital Gubernatorial Transition

| Brian Gosselin

Brian - Gosselin - 3When Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick thought about the end of his eight years in the corner office, he said three words to me that established the principles of the transition process to the next Governor: smooth, professional and transparent. To achieve the Governor’s vision, I turned to technology to launch the nation’s first digital transition for a Governor. Here is some information on how technology revolutionized the process.

Why and how do you plan for a transition?

People depend on the continuity of government services; proper planning can mitigate disruption of operations and services. Before we tapped technology, I started with people to gain institutional knowledge and understand the anxieties that shaped the transition and defined its outcomes.

What transition material should staff create that will actually be helpful?

When I started this process, boxes of transition binders (some 7 inches thick) from previous transitions were delivered to my office. It appeared that the binders were barely used, if at all, based on the perfect alignment of the paper. I decided to employ digital tools to create user-friendly materials and challenge the workforce to concisely identify the immediate decisions the new administration must make. Here are a few things we launched:

The website went live the minute the polls closed on Election Day and the entire executive branch was prepared for the next Governor: Binder free!

What do you do with the photos, videos, awards, and other records at the end of an Administration?

Archive them! A major project is preserving records according to Public Records Law. A previous administration sent approximately 800 boxes of paper records to the State Archives. Since most work is done through email and stored on servers, we decided to only archive paper files if we did not have them electronically. We executed the Commonwealth’s first digital archive transfer, and compared to 800 boxes of paper files, we transferred ten boxes, and approximately one terabyte of data, saving an enormous amount of physical space and making records digitally accessible.

How do you transition social media accounts used in state government?

We developed guidance for the first transition of digital tools such as Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. To comply with Public Records Law, we implemented the Twitter’s archiving feature and digitally transferred photos and videos to the State Archive.

Now that you’ve built a transition program, will everything go as planned?

Of course not! Transitions require government to prepare for many unknowns. You don’t know who will win the election. You don’t know if the incoming team will embrace the process, materials, and people who are ready to transfer knowledge. The only certainties are the deadlines of the election and inauguration! With an engaged workforce, who some perceive to be resistant to technology, we collectively embraced this innovative process for the first time, and dedicated our energy to responsibly transferring the people’s trust to a new team of leaders. Through technology, future transitions will only become smoother, more professional and more transparent in years to come.

Brian Gosselin is a senior manager experienced in the public and private sector. Over the past ten years Brian has supported federal, state and local entities to improve operational capabilities, develop and implement large scale policy changes, and improve government transparency to better serve constituents, customers and clients. Brian’s reputation as a strong leader while steering complex fiscal, programmatic, and reform initiatives propelled him into senior management positions in government.

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