New technology administrator reflects on role in transportation

The appointment last week of Shannon Barnes as ITD’s new Information Technology Administrator is a marriage of several strengths. Barnes, who has been with ITD since 2006, will combine a sound background in technology with strong leadership and management skills and a vision that keeps her on the edge – where today meets tomorrow.

Chief Administrative Officer Mike Golden announced her selection last week, and Barnes assumed her new duties Monday (May 14). There was not much of a transition period, though. Tuesday she attended an AASHTO (American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials) meeting in Michigan.

“We are confident that Shannon will provide the leadership and vision necessary for continuing ITD’s momentum in the use of technology,” Golden said. “ETS is a cornerstone in building a department that serves customers better, improves the transportation system and strengthens the economy.”

Barnes has been involved in technology “in one form or another” since 1996 when she was a bureau chief of information technology and later a regional manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

After a 3 ½-year break in the private sector, she returned to the public arena as the automated systems manager for ITD’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Among her first major tasks was to begin planning and implementation of the new DMV modernization project. That evolved into a position with Enterprise Technology Services where she helped to expand the services of the Project Management Office.

“There are great people in ETS who work very hard to keep the department on the cutting edge of technology – taking advantage of emerging technology while keeping our legacy systems operating,” Barnes said.

ITD recently launched a Highway Technology Investment Program (HTIP) that will merge technology with highway management decisions to make the department more efficient. The intent is to support ITD’s strategic plan by operating a highway system that is safe, improves mobility for users, strengthens the state economy and results in better service to customers.

The HTIP already is reshaping department by introducing new construction management software, a new fleet management system and a fuel management system.

“I believe technology will take us a step closer to becoming the best transportation department in the country and give us the tools to do our jobs better, more effectively and more efficiently,” Barnes said.

“We need to turn data into knowledge so we can make the right decisions. Good information leads to high-value outcomes.”

Barnes said her top priorities for ETS include:

  • Increasing skills and knowledge of ETS staff
  • Developing a five-year information technology plan, and
  • Providing reliable, high-quality technologies for customers.

The challenge, she explains, is to keep pace with technology developments.

“Technology changes so fast, in so many areas … there is a high demand to incorporate the latest technology in our daily jobs. But we need to balance those needs for flexibility in the work place with maintaining a safe, secure and reliable technology system.”

Barnes doesn’t envision sweeping changes in the way ETS operates. Instead, like the rest of the department, it will focus on continuous improvement.

Published 5-18-2012