Hartford: Civic IT Department Merger Means Doing More with Less

MHIS has been supporting Hartford, Conn., and its school system for 15 years. Changing leaders, budgets and priorities still pull from two directions.

HARTFORD, CONN. -- In 2002, the city of Hartford had a merger between its Information Services department and the Hartford Public Schools’ Information Technology department, creating Metro Hartford Innovation Services (MHIS).

Today, MHIS staff led by a chief innovation officer (CIO) is made up of both city and Hartford Public Schools employees, with a unified financial system, a single user directory system, a single email system and a single phone system, according to a history page on the city of Hartford's website.

After 15 years, a movement in city operations to unified technology may seem resolved.

"However, as leaders come and go and resources and priorities shift, there is constant tension between the two organizations that created us. Thus, I say that we are an experiment—ongoing, often challenging, never dull, and effective, interesting and always moving forward," wrote the page author, likely a former CIO.

Within MHIS is the Hartford GIS team, which oversees licenses and data kept throughout the city's departments, except the police department, and operates the city's open data portal.

The team has to do more with less -- fewer staff as a consolidated department, budget constraints and more devices and tools than when the consolidation idea was first conceived in 1996..

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