call system in November 2002, and her agency runs the call center behind the 311 application. She's also in the midst of a "CIO Initiative" to assess the city's IT enterprise in terms of people, hardware and software.

Lowery said the first phase of the tnitiative will result in recommendations to the mayor and City Council on the roles and responsibilities for IT in the city. She said the council and mayor want to know who's in charge of what, and who's responsible for what. The second phase will focus on technology and operational processes.

"It's getting easier every day to see the impact that IT in local government has in your community," she said. "That's what motivates me. When I first started out in IT, it had just gone from being called 'data processing' to being called 'MIS.' It was still very back room. Now, I manage the 311 call center. I have an Emmy award-winning cable TV channel. I deliver government services over the Web. I interact with the public a lot more than I did then."

Though Los Angeles, like many other cities, is facing tough budget times, Lowery said there's reason to be hopeful.

"I think it's our biggest opportunity, and I'm going to be able to do some things a little earlier than I had thought I would be able to get them accepted," she said. "It isn't just IT. It's everybody, and we're trying to help the departments get their focus in place."

-- Shane Peterson, associate editor

Stuart McKee

Director and CIO

Department of Information Services

Washington state

In April 2002, former Walt Disney executive Stuart McKee was appointed by Gov. Gary Locke to fill the post vacated by CIO superstar Steve Kolodney.

The state's reputation as an IT leader attracted McKee to the job, and he has continued moving the state forward. Washington recently won the Center for Digital Government's Sustained Leadership Award. "I think this was a recognition not only of our ability to do a good thing and be out in front, but to be out in front year after year," McKee said. "That award reflected the momentum of my organization before I got here, and it recognized that the momentum has carried through, and in many cases, is accelerating."

As reflected in his department's mission statement, that momentum is directed at transforming the state's government. McKee added that many people have bright ideas; the real test is getting things done.

"In a position like mine, where technology is changing so quickly and so dramatically, the biggest challenge is engaging the people whose world is going to change and helping them see that the future is better," he said.

McKee views privacy and identity theft as some of the biggest challenges government faces.

"The economic development opportunities of a connected world have yet to be realized, and many of the hurdles are related to digital authentication and our ability to conduct electronic business," he said. "Much of our privacy legislation has been written from a fear standpoint. We have created some laws and regulations that, in many cases, are not implementable or are burdensome, and are damaging to privacy and economic development possibilities."

A third challenge is the jurisdictional boundaries that have been built and institutionalized in government. "In many cases, our funding processes and procedures are absolutely propagating silos and fiefdoms," he said. "That has to change ultimately by getting people to embrace a new way of doing business."

McKee didn't anticipate his enthusiasm for public service, explaining it by citing a proverb: "A great society is built by those who are willing to plant trees they know they will never sit under."