Tom Jarrett became Delaware's first CIO in September 2001. His first assignment? Get a brand-new, Cabinet-level department off the ground and running in two years.
The Department of Technology and Information (DTI), created by the General Assembly in June 2001 to replace the state's Office of Information Services, officially opened for business in May 2003. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the new agency is that DTI employees work outside the protections of the state's civil service system.
Jarrett said the process, while certainly not easy, wasn't as much of a nightmare as it could have been.
"Being a part of that process and infusing a lot of new people into the organization, I've truly enjoyed working with an excellent group of people who are smart, very motivated and share the same set of values I have," Jarrett said.
"It's a challenge I don't think anybody can truly appreciate. Even the people who charged us with doing it don't truly appreciate how difficult it is to dissolve an organization and build a new one from scratch," he said. "From scratch means redesigning every job description, the pay scales, everything, and in less than 18 months."
Initial results show agencies are pleased with the DTI's day-to-day work so far, and Jarrett's employees now can focus on entrepreneurial ideas. The state is in the middle of several ERP implementations, including replacing Delaware's entire financial system.
The biggest IT challenge to governments overall is effective lobbying for IT, he said, citing a fear that IT, once again, is being viewed as just another capital expense -- an expense that's tempting to cut first.
"We need to put a human face on IT because a lot of people never think about that," he said. "They just want to talk about the boxes and the commodity aspect of IT. Well, the boxes don't make it all work. People make it all work."
Congratulations to this year's group of "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers," who appear in the March issue of Government Technology magazine.