Remember Y2K and the brouhaha surrounding it? Y2K is the shorthand term for “the year 2000” and was commonly used to refer to a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000.

Utah had a statewide coordinator who oversaw the upgrading of hundreds of systems. That man was Dave Fletcher. After nearly 20 years, today is his last day as the state chief technology officer.

Fletcher created his first egov website in 1993, when he was director of General Services for the State of Utah. He’s also been the deputy CIO over e-government, deputy director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services and the director of the Utah Division of Information Technology Services.

As CTO, Fletcher oversaw the state’s digital government initiatives and coordinated the introduction of emerging technology and the state’s technical architecture program. When the average tenure for a state CTO is typically two years, Fletcher stayed almost 10 times longer. Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State CIOs, said Fletcher was adaptable and resilient, with lots of intellectual curiosity. “He is kind of ‘Mr. Emerging Technology,’” Robinson told State Scoop on Wednesday.

That curiosity and interest in emerging technology led Fletcher to get state agencies on board with the internet, when a number of agency heads thought the internet was just a fad. He also led the development of a 2007 e-government plan and then the creation of “mobile-friendly digital services” after the invention of the smartphone. He led the move to the cloud and most recently, using generative artificial intelligence, incorporated it into Utah’s digital services.

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Fletcher told GovTech that the next big thing is artificial intelligence — a space Utah has been working in for several years. Fletcher says he uses generative AI every day, and he expects Utah to be a leader in this area. “It’ll be the biggest thing since the Internet … so the biggest technological advancement in 30 years, I think,” Fletcher said.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said of Fletcher: “Dave has been a visionary leader during his 34 years with state government. From guiding the state’s Y2K response to leading an artificial intelligence working group since 2018, Dave has been an innovator, resulting in Utah being one of the top states in the nation in the digital delivery of government services. He has been a great mentor and a wise and thoughtful friend to many, and we’re grateful for his service to his fellow state employees and the people of this great state.”

The new CTO is Chris Williamson, who has over 20 years of team building, program and personnel management in technology and operations experience. He has served most recently as the CIO of Myriad Genetics. Fletcher told GovTech he looks forward to Williamson taking on the launch of the state’s next-generation citizen portal, which is more personalized and integrates artificial intelligence into its capabilities.

Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy.