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What Would John Matelski Ask?

America's local-government executives talk about their work.

Mai Amit
Mai Amit
November 6, 2019

John proudly serves the citizens and constituents of DeKalb County, GA as the Chief Innovation and Information Officer. He was asked to come to DeKalb County to help transform the IT operations and to drive innovation in business processes that provide value back to their stakeholders. His responsibilities are varied and touch upon policy formation, developing departmental annual goals and objectives, and overseeing technology implementations across the enterprise. 

John says that developing and maintaining positive work relationships through superior service delivery, creative business solutions and a collaborative operating style has been key to the progress that has been made. "I have been honored to work in both the public and private sectors, but have spent the last 20 years in government passionately championing IT initiatives for the benefit of our citizenry and constituents," says John.

5 Short Questions

If you could invent a county department - what would it be?

One of the things that all citizens and constituents should be able to take advantage of is a government that drives innovation, and is delivering services that the citizens and constituents need and want. For this reason, I highly encourage every organization to invest in a program or department that centers around innovation. This is one of the reasons that I worked with our Chief Executive Officer and Board of Commissioners to revamp DeKalb’s technology support function, which was more tactically focused – and created the Department of Innovation and Technology. 

The department is responsible for providing vision and leadership, with the goal of providing world-class technical advice, solutions and services to our customers, who are also our business partners. The department of Innovation and Technology must contribute to an efficient and productive county government while using innovative solutions to improve citizens' access to government information and services. DeKalb County is making the necessary investments in information technology and software, which through careful planning, cooperative business and technical execution will provide its citizens with a return on investment in the form of improved services.  

What is more useful in your work - immediate problem solving or long-term planning, and why?

Though both problem solving and long term planning are essential for anyone to be a good CIO or leader, being a great one requires visioning, problem solving and long term planning and collaboration skills. Successful organizations must use technology and innovation to drive radical/disruptive change that meet the evolving needs of the citizens/ constituents.

What buzzword is misused or overrated in your field?


What can cities do that states can’t?

Counties are positioned to provide general local services that the federal and state governments do not provide.   

What is the one question you would ask the residents of your county?

I would ask our citizens and constituents – what pain points do you experience when trying to engage with and/or receive service(s) from your County government?  By gaining greater insight into the needs of the communities for which we serve, we can fine-tune and enhance the delivery of current services, while also evaluating potential new services.


*** Stay tuned for more interviews with local government executives. Want to be featured in this series? Get in touch with Yoni Melamed at ***

What Would John Matelski Ask?Mai Amit
Mai was our Partnerships Manager at Insights.US