(US & Canada) VIDEO | We Want to Make Virginia a Better Place to Live With Data and AI — Commonwealth of Virginia CDO

Ken Pfeil, Chief Data Officer at the Commonwealth of Virginia, speaks with Adita Karkera, Chief Data Officer of Government and Public Services at Deloitte, in a video interview about creating statewide data literacy, the data governance program, successful project initiatives, building a single unified portal, leveraging AI and predictive analytics, and the guardrails around the use of AI in the commonwealth.

Shedding light on strategies to create statewide data literacy, Pfeil mentions having a comprehensive data governance program. He adds that the Commonwealth Data Trust is eligible to participate in the data literacy and upskilling done through Dataversity.

Further, he affirms doing regular maturity assessments to understand the current standing and the parts that need improvement whether it is metadata management or data quality.

The data literacy program is there to aid new agency CDOs, by raising the foundation for them to work on, says Pfeil. Speaking about putting the program together, he mentions collaborating with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which had good internal LMS, and with collaboration, it became dispersible across the Commonwealth.

When asked about notable projects across the state, Pfeil discusses two separate projects regarding veterans in the state of Virginia, and in the office of workforce development and advancement.

About the former initiative, he mentions working with the Department of Veterans Services, to identify veterans and ensure that they know the entitlements and have access to them. Additionally, Pfeil talks about introducing veteran services bills and that the goal is to serve veterans, enabling them to live an enriched life.

The second initiative of the Office of Workforce Development and Advancement oversees the creation of a workforce ecosystem spread across thirteen agencies. From grants and entitlements to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, everything is brought under one ecosystem, he asserts.

This allows the agency to implement crucial things like pathways from education to the workforce, starting with children from the K12 level to facilitate a job at the other end. Pfeil affirms that the agency has everything on a single portal, making it convenient to find or list jobs.

By leveraging AI, the portal has managed to generate over 230,000 jobs in the state of Virginia, in accordance with the governor’s promise of bringing in 400,000 jobs during its inauguration. Delving further, Pfeil also mentions doing predictive analytics for cybersecurity, to suffice the shortage of staff to deal with cybersecurity issues.

Moreover, he finds it challenging to recruit qualified people into the government as compared to the workplace charm and pay of a private financial services company. While the end goal is workforce prioritization, these models can be applied to other circumstances, he adds.

For instance, he observes that in healthcare, predicting what could happen to a patient and then getting the services to them before crisis hits is also being worked upon.

Commenting on the use of AI at the Commonwealth, Pfeil takes note of the Executive Directive issued on AI use by Governor Glenn Youngkin. With that, the focus is on four pivotal areas to help establish guardrails and safety mechanisms:

  1. Privacy and the use of intellectual property

  2. Policy standards for effective and safe usage of AI

  3. IT-related safeguards focusing on cybersecurity and governance

  4. Ensuring Virginia students are properly trained within the guardrails and on AI

Moving forward, Pfeil affirms taking steps to increase the use of predictive analytics and machine learning to stay competitive and solve real-world problems for Virginians.

As a takeaway for future data and tech professionals, Pfeil advises to immerse oneself in different areas rather than focusing on a single thing. It is critical to understand how the whole system works together.

Furthermore, he stresses the importance of asking questions, looking at the bigger picture, and striving to get better each day. Also, leaders need to learn to work differently with the new generation, because trust is a two-way street, says Pfeil.

For those wanting to work with the government, he maintains that the objective is to make Virginia a better place to live by leveraging data and AI. Pfeil concludes that while the monetary payoff may not be great, the feeling of enriching lives will stay for a lifetime.

CDO Magazine appreciates Ken Pfeil for sharing his insights and data success stories with our global community.

Executive Interviews

No stories found.
CDO Magazine