We talk a lot in Government Technology about modernizing legacy systems, replacing old technology that has outlived its useful life. Such systems become increasingly difficult to maintain, are tough to integrate with newer technology and don’t offer nearly the functionality of more up-to-date solutions. And then there’s finding the staff to work on them, which becomes a bigger problem as programmers with those skill sets start to hit retirement.

But the April/May issue focuses on the definition of “legacy” with more positive connotations. Our annual Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers is once again an inspiring look at what’s right in the public sector. The legacy they’ll leave — and thankfully, nearly all have plenty of time to add to it — is one of big ideas, bold thinking and skillful execution on the potential of truly digital government.

As always, the list is peppered with a healthy supply of CIOs in local and state government. You’ll also find public-sector leaders serving in a variety of other roles, whose work impacts the way that technology is used to improve outcomes. Others in the Top 25 are making significant impacts on how government does business in their roles outside of government. Many commonalities run through this year’s honorees.

They think big. In Buffalo, N.Y., Director of Citizen Services and Chief Service Officer Oswaldo Mestre Jr. isn’t constrained by traditional ways of doing things. Among his many accomplishments are standing up a 311 system that not only makes the city more responsive to constituents but has also reshaped city planning. Also in New York, Westchester County CIO John McCaffrey supports a culture where employees are encouraged to challenge convention to improve operations.

They seize opportunity. NIC CEO Harry Herington leads a company that has completely transformed how government services are delivered online. The gov tech market is represented on this list by smart investors who recognized a chance to contribute to better functioning communities. They and many others like them play a critical role in nurturing good ideas into transformative tools for the public sector and the citizens it serves.

They collaborate. The leaders on the pages that follow want the best ideas to rise to the top, even if they come from a neighboring jurisdiction. Indiana CIO Dewand Neely works to make sure other states can benefit from his state’s leading analytics work and wants to help local governments shore up their cybersecurity stances. Travis County, Texas, CIO Tanya Acevedo is dealing with the onslaught of digital evidence by working with neighboring counties on an online case management system accessible to multiple agencies.  

As the saying goes, nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. Our 2017 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers offer a fresh set of stories that are filled with them.