March 1, 2004 By Government Technology
-- Blake Harris, contributing editor
Commissioner, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications
New York City
When you are the CIO and your boss understands technology as well as you, you better be on your toes. Now imagine your boss is the mayor of the country's largest city, which also has the nation's largest concentration of media. Anything that goes wrong might be on the national as well as local news that evening.
Welcome to the world of politics and technology in the Big Apple. Gino Menchini has worked in this high-stakes world since Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him commissioner of the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in 2001.
Bloomberg talks both big issues and details when using technology as a catalyst in city government, and Menchini carries out the high-tech mayor's IT vision.
For 17 years, Menchini served in various city IT management positions, including the Board of Education and the Mayor's Office of Operations. When he began as commissioner, Menchini was handed one of the toughest assignments ever: Turn the city's far-flung call centers and complaint phone lines into an integrated, three-digit hotline backed by telephony, and customer relationship management and GIS software.
Many would have flinched at taking on such a task under the hot glare of the nation's sharp-eyed press, but Menchini relished the chance to attack a significant problem in today's city governments -- ineffective citizen services -- and improve it with the latest technology. He's also helped the mayor transform city operations.
Building the country's largest public-sector 311 system isn't Menchini's only accomplishment. He's taken on important IT projects involving wireless, education and public safety. But like many successful CIOs, he doesn't rest on his laurels.
It doesn't hurt to hear what others have said about the impact of technology on New York City. "311 really has changed the way we do business," Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner, told the New York Times. "What it allows us to do is reach people -- or allow people to reach us -- much more efficiently."
-- Tod Newcombe, editor, Public CIO
Nevada County, Calif.
Nevada County may seem like a sleepy, rural California jurisdiction, but plenty of things are happening under the surface.
Nevada County, along with the California State Library and San Mateo County, has worked on the California Counties Information Architecture (CCIA) Project since early 2001. It began as an effort to create information standards the two counties could use to redesign their respective Web sites. The project has since flourished, and in a little more than two years, 12 counties have joined.
Nevada County also is developing a generic, prebuilt Web site that could give other small counties or cities an inexpensive way to buy a Web site already based on the information architecture. Nevada County can use that prebuilt site to quickly develop and host Web sites for other jurisdictions, Monaghan said, and three counties are talking to him about doing just that. Monaghan said Nevada County already created a site for Plumas County's Public Health Agency, and it will design and host a Web site for Nevada City.
Monaghan joined Nevada County in April 1999 after serving as a principal partner in a technical services and consulting firm that did business with a variety of industries, including banks, high-tech companies, health-care providers, schools and nonprofits.
Monaghan said he finds working in the public sector rewarding.
"In the private sector, we were just out to make a buck," he said. "It's just a completely different sense of satisfaction coming out of the work. You would put in a technical solution for, say, an HMO
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