Digital Transformation

5 min

Embracing Digital Transformation and Modernization: The Colorado Legislature's Experience during the Pandemic

State Assembly of Colorado

Strategic Partners



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on organizations across the world, and the Colorado Legislature is no exception. As the CIO of the Colorado Legislature, Manish Jani has been at the forefront of implementing technology initiatives to adapt to the changing environment. The Colorado Legislature is composed of 100 legislators, with 65 representatives in the House and 35 senators, representing a state with a population of 5.75 million people. In this essay, we will explore the impact of the pandemic on the Colorado Legislature’s technology initiatives, as well as the ways in which they have embraced digital transformation and modernization.


Digital Transformation and Modernization in the Colorado Legislature


The Colorado Legislature had to pivot to meet the changing demands of the pandemic, which led to modified schedules for legislative sessions in 2020 and 2021. This required a reassessment of the strategic focus areas for IT in the legislature, which included services being accessible to all, efficiency through automation, innovation, resilience, and quality.


The Colorado Legislature’s investment in infrastructure proved advantageous, as they were well-equipped to transition from in-office work to remote work. As a result, the organization has ordered more laptops and increased remote IT support, with the intention of continuing this trend in the future.


The pandemic accelerated several digital transformation initiatives that were already in the works, as well as prompted the creation of new ones. Digital transformation initiatives involve the use of technology, data, or automation to improve existing processes or create new business processes, while modernization initiatives involve updating legacy applications and consolidating systems into standardized technology stacks. Both types of initiatives aim to improve efficiency, agility, and user experience.


During the pandemic, several transformation initiatives were either accelerated or transformed. For instance, the deployment of Box, a content collaboration platform, was expedited. This allowed traditional documents, such as fiscal notes, amendments, committee reports, and citizen testimony, to be stored and accessed in real-time by legislators. Another example is the electronic witness sign-up process for committee hearings, which moved from a pilot project to full-scale production, allowing citizens to sign up and submit their testimony remotely.


The pandemic also resulted in an increased reliance on electronic applications and tools, such as live proceedings, website access, live and archived audio streaming, and Webex. Digital signatures were introduced for memos and leadership approvals, and multi-factor authentication was implemented in a short time frame to enhance cybersecurity.


The pandemic brought about changes in resource management, with remote work becoming more accepted, enabling the legislature to recruit staff from anywhere and potentially increase productivity. This also led to lower attrition rates and less need for physical office space.


Challenges and Opportunities


Despite the progress made, the Colorado Legislature still faces constraints and limitations in implementing digital initiatives. Tradition and precedent can sometimes hinder change, and there is often limited appetite for failure. The challenge lies in striking a balance between maintaining tradition and embracing technology. The legislature must also work towards being perceived as a strategic partner and an agent for change.


In conclusion, the Colorado Legislature’s experience during the pandemic demonstrated the importance of digital transformation and modernization. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the pandemic has led to easier access for citizens, increased citizen engagement in the lawmaking process, and greater acceptance of automation and digitalization. These developments provide momentum for further digital initiatives, which the Colorado Legislature plans to continue pursuing in the future.

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