Introducing new technology is not just about programming languages and applications, but also skills and culture.

That’s evident in the work of Babila Lima, the director of the Baltimore City Department of General Services’ (DGS) Business Process Improvement Office. He has worked in the city government since the Dixon administration, advocating for innovation and skills development over more than a decade.

The Department of General Services in itself is an arm of the government that manages equipment and buildings for different city agencies, as well as performs administrative tasks. The business process improvement office is Lima’s brainchild, where he has turned civic innovation into his day job.

His work boils down to this: Analyze a government processes and find ways to improve it. That could mean modernizing the process by turning a document-in-triplicate process into one that is paperless. Or, it could mean automating a process through coding that was done by an individual. In either case, the main issue isn’t in the tech solution. Rather, it is getting buy-in from employees whose jobs may be affected, and showing that their value isn’t being diminished or exploited.

“We needed to communicate that your job will become easier because there’s less manual effort you need to put in,” said Lima. “and you can use that time in a way that you determine is more productive.”

He’s often pushing against the mindset that increasing efficiency means increasing the workload at best, and working an employee out of the position at worst. He wants to change the way agencies work and prepare the government for the age of automation and software innovation that stands to make traditional bureaucratic pencil-pushing obsolete.

“It’s hard to talk about that transition without people feeling like you’re talking about replacing people,” said Lima. “That’s not the message. That’s not the goal. It’s more about readying agencies and organizations to meet the skills needs they’re going to have in the next ten to fifteen years.”

If they’re not ready, agencies might not only be ill-prepared for the technological future, but lose all of their institutional knowledge when all of their senior employees retire.

“In my agency alone, more than half of our folks are either retirement ready or eligible,” said Lima, and this isn’t unique to only DGS in his experience.