Interview: Washington state CIO Bill Kehoe on infrastructure, cybersecurity and more

William “Bill” Kehoe, Washington state chief information officer. (State of Washington Photo)

When William “Bill” Kehoe started his current job as Washington state chief information officer this past August, he entered a gig with a plateful of problems, from cybersecurity issues to broadband equity gaps.

The Gonzaga University grad recently sat down (virtually) with GeekWire contributing editor Mike Lewis to talk about his priorities for 2022. Kehoe has years of experience managing information technology departments in state and local governments including working as CIO in Los Angeles and as King County’s information department director in Seattle.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

GW: The infrastructure bill, according to Sen. Patty Murray’s office, will bring a minimum of $100 million to Washington state, likely a lot more. One of the things it would fund is improving broadband access. I want to get your thoughts on broadband access in Washington state.

Kehoe: Before coming to the state of Washington, I was leading a digital equity and strategic planning exercise in L.A. County. So I have some experience in terms of what is needed to really help with the digital divide situation.

There are three pillars of the digital divide, or digital equity, that I think are really important. Broadband is one — and that’s access to the internet. That includes the last mile. Solutions for that can vary from community to community, depending on the needs.

Then the need for devices. If a household doesn’t have broadband access, they might not have devices. If they have devices, they may not understand how to utilize those devices. That’s where digital literacy and having programs available in the community also helps.

I think for broadband, our Department of Commerce will partner with us and other agencies in the state in terms of needs and I think they have some projects lined up. Then we’ll look at this kind of broader digital equity piece as well. But in terms of other uses for the (infrastructure) money, I know that we’re looking at potentially having some help around cybersecurity and our needs…