MNIT welcomed two new leaders: John Israel and Qiana Hicks. John Israel was named as Assistant Commissioner and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the State of Minnesota. He served as Interim CISO since October 2022 and has over 25 years of IT experience leading, building, and growing cybersecurity and IT functions in municipal, county, and state entities integrating highly technical functions into strategic organizational operations.
Qiana Hicks is the Chief Business Technology Officer (CBTO) for MNIT partnering with the Department of Education. Starting her IT career 23 years ago, she has established an extensive track record in software engineering, quality assurance, infrastructure, production operations, data warehousing, and analytics.
In June, MNIT held its annual MNIT Week. This is a time for professional development opportunities, and for staff to connect with one another, as well as agency leadership. Highlights from the week included a virtual town hall, a length of service ceremony, and the agency’s annual awards ceremony.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, MNIT’s Office of Accessibility hosted two virtual events for State of Minnesota employees. The goal was to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital accessibility and inclusion. The presentations showcased the value of accessibility and how to include accessibility in meetings. Find recordings of each session.
The Minnesota Geospatial Commons has now surpassed 1,000 resources! The Commons launched in 2015 with nearly 200 resources from 9 publishers. Its steady growth is due to the ongoing commitment of organizations to provide free and open geospatial data to the Minnesota geospatial community and beyond. In 2022, users downloaded over 135,000 resources.
On Friday, June 23, MNIT held its Annual Awards ceremony to recognize service excellence and the honorees’ dedication to furthering MNIT’s mission, vision, values, and priorities. Learn more about this year’s finalists and honorees.
In March 2023, as part of the language access project, Minnesota launched a new virtual assistant to help customers access driver and vehicle services. Developed through a partnership between MNIT and the Department of Public Safety’s-Driver and Vehicle Services (DPS-DVS), the technology helps Minnesotans access online support services and documentation in a language that is easier for them to read, write, and speak Specifically, it provides translation into Hmong, Cushite-Beja-Somali, and Spanish. Over 300,000 Minnesota residents who rely on a language other than English can now more easily receive services from DPS-DVS.
Minnesota Department of Education Prepares for Free Lunch Program
In March, the Legislature passed the MN Free Schools Meals bill providing one free breakfast and one lunch, regardless of income, to every student at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. MNIT worked with the Minnesota Department of Education to update the School Nutrition Program application, which resides in CLiCS (Cyber-Linked Interactive Child Nutrition System), by the beginning of May to opt schools into the state-funded program. The CLiCS application made it a seamless process for participating schools to be included in the new program as part of their annual renewal process. Additionally, the project also included updating CLiCS to include the new Minnesota Free School Meals rates for the 2023-2024 school year.
EMSRB Primary Service Territory Creation
MNIT’s Geospatial Information Office partnered with the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB) to convert text-based PDFs into geographic boundaries to display ambulance service primary service areas. The project makes it easier to navigate and understand ambulance service coverage as a whole and for each geographic area. By developing an interactive map that provides a visual representation of the primary service areas, accompanying descriptors can provide specifics about each area’s coverage. Previously, the primary service areas were only defined by text-based descriptors. A link to the map can be found on EMSRB’s website and the map is searchable in ArcGIS Online.
Update Allows for Employees to Display Preferred Names in Microsoft 365
MNIT partnered with Management and Budget to update the state’s HR system to begin the process to automate how employees’ preferred first names display in Microsoft 365 tools like Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint. Employees’ legal name will continue to be their primary identity in the system, but the process will allow them to use what they prefer to be called in day-to-day settings. New and re-hired employees can enter their preferred first name directly during the onboarding process; HR staff enter existing employees’ preferred first name in the HR system.
Minnesota Pollution Control Updates Mass Notification System for Staff
MNIT partnered with the Minnesota Pollution Agency to update its mass notification system to send both emergency and non-emergency notifications to staff in a timely and efficient manner. Notifications include information on things such as tornado warnings, gas leaks, and other events requiring action. The previous system only allowed notifications to hard phones (like desk phones), text messages, and email. With many employees now working remotely, the system has expanded capabilities to send messages out to additional sources including soft phones, desktop notifications, and more.
Office of Cannabis Management Website Launch
On May 30, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill legalizing cannabis use by adults 21 and older. By nightfall of that day, MNIT in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched the Office of Cannabis Management website.
The Office of Cannabis Management regulates cannabis (including for the adult-use market, the Medical Cannabis Program, and lower-potency hemp edibles) and will issue licenses and develop regulations outlining how and when businesses can participate in the industry. Recognizing there would be considerable public interest, the three agencies took a proactive approach and leveraged technology to provide Minnesotans quick access to information. The website provides a one-stop resource that’s easy to navigate for visitors.
State of Minnesota Plans to Adopt WCAG 2.1
The State of Minnesota will update its digital accessibility standards to reflect new guidelines – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. After researching the impact on both state employees and potential value for end users, MNIT’s Office of Accessibility formed a cross-agency steering committee to lead the adoption efforts. With an expected effective date of March 1, 2024, the steering committee will prepare state agencies and their employees with the resources and direction they need to plan, design, and create or buy accessible information and technology that supports WCAG 2.1.
MNIT now has a self-service option for computer replacements. This gives state employees flexibility in scheduling, reduces staff time, and gives you the level of support people want via in-person or virtual appointments, curbside pickup, and shipping – whatever type of replacement works best for them.
535 cybersecurity incidents were detected by or reported to the MNIT Security Operation Center within the Office of Enterprise Security.
Type of security incident
Unauthorized access attempt
Multi-factor authentication compromise
Denial of service
The Procurement Division is responsible for processing all requests to purchase everything from IT hardware, software, and mobile devices to contractors brought in to assist on projects.
Number of Purchase Requests
Average Processing Time (days)
Purchase Request Volume
Average purchase request processing time (days)
Geospatial Information Office
The Minnesota Geospatial Information Office coordinates geographic information systems (GIS) within the state, creating connections between state agencies and other stakeholders from government and non-government organizations.
Orgs sharing their data on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons
Number of resources on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons
Number of projects the office supports and hosts
Number of hits on the geospatial image server
Office of Accessibility
The Office of Accessibility is charged with overseeing the implementation of accessibility standards for all executive branch employees and state agencies.
The State of Minnesota will update its digital accessibility standards to reflect new guidelines – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. With an expected effective date of March 1, 2024, a steering committee will prepare state agencies and their employees with the resources and direction they need to plan, design, and create or buy accessible information and technology that supports WCAG 2.1.
Number of downloads of the Office of Accessibility’s guidance documents
Number of downloads of the Office of Accessibility’s quick cards
Number of people new people trained in Accessible Word documents
Enterprise service desk
Our enterprise service desk provides 24/7 IT support and services for Minnesota state government: executive branch agencies, boards, councils, and commissions; non-executive branch customers, education, tribal governments, nonprofits; and MNIT staff.
Total volume of all service desk tickets across the executive branch
Number of those tickets resolved the same day
Percentage of service desk tickets resolved in one day
Average rating of service desk interaction (1-5 scale)
IT Optimization Updates
CloudRAMP (Cloud Readiness and Modernization Project) is MNIT’s enterprise project to identify and modernize applications to begin moving into the Azure cloud. Updates from the most recent quarter:
In May, $33.5M in funding was approved by the Minnesota legislature to accelerate the executive branch’s move to the cloud. MNIT will leverage these investments over four years to accelerate its ongoing cloud adoption initiative.
Also in this quarter, MNIT’s Azure Government Cloud became available. One agency has initiated a test case for its use.