When George Bakolia became CIO of North Carolina in 2002, his first task was building trust in the state's IT department.

"If you cannot show success and you don't build that trust, you cannot achieve anything," he said. "And it's an ongoing process; it never ends. You have to show success, credibility and trust throughout."

That attitude has served Bakolia well as he's led the way on numerous IT projects for North Carolina. One of his favorites is a new data center - a 53,000-square-foot structure about 225 miles from Raleigh, the state capital, that will back up all core services by June 30. At a cost of $24.5 million for property and construction, and $8 million for equipment, the project was completed on schedule and within budget.

"I see this as a major plum for North Carolina, because a lot of states are looking at similar needs," Bakolia said.

Oklahoma officials have visited the site, South Carolina and Georgia have expressed interest, and Tennessee recently announced a similar effort.

Bakolia is proud to say that North Carolina is finishing a project many others are just starting. "We're ahead of the curve," he said. "It's a major success and an achievement for us, and for our state government."

An earlier success was deploying a new asset management system for IT. Bakolia also instituted bulk purchases of IT equipment, saving the state $27 million since November 2004. And he's proud of the 2004 IT reform bill that gave the CIO more authorization to get things done. "It was all about how we improve planning, budgeting and management of IT in state government," he said.

That legislation changed IT governance for North Carolina, paving the way for many improvements that followed. The expansion of the CIO's role worked out so well for North Carolina, Bakolia suggests other states do the same.