technology sector. We have developed a group of employees at the city that believe innovation and advancing technologically is important to delivering services. They are committed to working with each other to achieve this."

Fairbanks' formula for success is to ensure they have the wherewithal to innovate.

-- Blake Harris, contributing editor

Carol Fukunaga

State Senator


Save for a four-year absence, Carol Fukunaga has served in Hawaii's Legislature since 1978 -- first in the House, then in the Senate. During that four-year break, she was executive officer for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Fukunaga now chairs the state Senate's Economic Development Committee and is a member of the Science, Arts and Technology Committee.

Since 1991, Hawaii has operated an information services network, Hawaii FYI, which gives residents access to a broad array of international, national and state government databases and information services.

Hawaii is unique, Fukunaga said, because the state has a foot in both the East and the West, giving it the best of both worlds.

"More and more, you see students that have grown up in a digital world really beginning to take their place as technology leaders," she said. "It's exciting to work with a lot of the young talent."

Hawaii faces problems with rugged topography and hard-to-reach rural areas when trying to make the Internet available to everyone. Despite this challenge, Fukunaga said, Hawaii is making progress.

"Wireless technologies can give older, rural schools the chance to jump over the landline problem and the high-speed bandwidth connectivity problems and go straight into something that might be cheaper and a lot more flexible and innovative," she said. "Wireless technologies and digital media are probably going to be two areas that we spend a lot of time on in the Legislature this year."

Hawaii is pursuing pilot projects with companies such as Sony to test the use of smart cards to deliver government services, which Fukunaga said is in keeping with the state's willingness to try new things.

"We're very isolated here, and we sort of have to rely on ourselves," she said. "We were one of the early states to pass telecommunications deregulation and public access legislation. Some of those areas have really been models for other parts of the country as well as being factors that have now positioned Hawaii to make some major advances on the economic development side.

"Hawaii is, today, one of the most rapid acceptors of new technology," she said. "That level of usage is partly the result of many of the Legislature's early efforts."

-- Shane Peterson, associate editor

Mark Johnson

Executive Director

North Dakota Association of Counties

Appointed to his position in 1983, Mark Johnson has seen his share of public-sector vagaries. During 30 years of government involvement, Johnson has been a lobbyist, project coordinator for the Old West Regional Commission, water resource planner for the North Dakota Water Commission, project manager at TPI and assistant to the director of the Grand Forks Urban Renewal Agency.

He was instrumental in creating an innovative role for the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo), one the association has expanded over the past few years. NDACo offers IT services and helps counties with IT planning, tech support, e-government projects and implementing state-mandated electronic programs.

NDACo has IT services contracts with 37 of North Dakota's 53 counties. The contracts guarantee 24-hour response time, one or two visits to the county per year and phone support. NDACo also plays middleman by assisting the North Dakota Information Technology Department during rollouts of statewide IT applications counties must deploy.

NDACo's work puts the association at the intersection of federal,