March 2, 2005 By Government Technology
Government Technology's Top 25 for 2004 showed that change in government is possible, despite the age-old belief that institutional barriers impede government reform. Using technology, these 25 men and women broke bureaucratic inertia to better serve the public. Congratulations to this year's group of doers, dreamers and drivers, who appear in alphabetical order below.
Des Moines, Iowa
Managing With Technology
Eric Anderson speaks about technology more passionately than some CIOs.
"Information technology can't be something you just give lip service to," he said. "It has to be part of your vision for how you're going to work and how you're going to accomplish the mission of your organization. It has to be part of absolutely everything."
That conviction helps explain why Des Moines consistently earns recognition for innovative and effective use of technology, culminating last year with a top finish in the Center for Digital Government's Digital Cities Survey.
Anderson and Des Moines CIO Michael Armstrong -- named to Government Technology's Top 25 for 2002 -- teamed to create a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that includes an enterprise seat management program for desktop technology and a citywide network that experienced less than 30 minutes of unscheduled downtime in 2003.
Things weren't always this good, however. Anderson didn't even have a PC on his desk when he joined the city government in 1995 -- neither did other managers. "We had old batch processing. We didn't have any kind of integrated systems," he said. "It was very rudimentary."
Determined to break with the past, Anderson formed a committee to create a strategic technology plan -- and he excluded the city's existing technologists from that group. "It was done by department heads, managers and front-line people," he said. "That was a great committee, and they came up with an absolutely terrific plan."
Anderson acknowledged the process was "wrenching" for what was then known as the city Data Processing Department, but the results were worth the pain, he said. The city hired Armstrong in 1997 to implement the plan, and Des Moines has made steady progress since.
Unlike some of his peers, Anderson frequently attends IT conferences to sharpen his skills. "Knowledge of technology is fundamental; it's a prerequisite to good management," he said, adding that public officials should take a long-range view of IT planning and deployment.
"Technology is something you build, then rebuild, then rebuild again," he said. "It's not our task to finish the job. It's our task to keep it going."
-- Steve Towns, Editor
Secretary of State
Taking Care of Business
Donetta Davidson says it's her job to make life easier for Colorado citizens and businesses, especially since the Secretary of State's Office is the state's business office.
"We've got 34 business entity filings online," she said. "We want to finish that process, as well as bring in trade names. We want to simplify the process for the public and not make it confusing. We passed legislation a year ago to bring all business licensing functions into our office."
Appointed Colorado's secretary of state by Gov. Bill Owens in mid-1999, Davidson ran for the office the next year and was elected in November 2000.
Davidson, who also chairs Colorado's Statewide Internet Portal Authority, has streamlined interaction between her office and Colorado employers. Her office created an online service that allows businesses to form commercial entities, including limited liability corporations, and for-profit and nonprofit corporations.
One of the biggest draws for users of the Secretary of State's Web site is the price --filings that corporations previously did by hand now can be done online
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