Government Technology's 2005 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers

Government Technology's 2005 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers

by / March 2, 2005

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.


Eric Anderson
City Manager
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


Donetta Davidson
Secretary of State
Colorado


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

for 99 cents.

Davidson's office also is looking to revamp its campaign finance software so political candidates can make much more extensive use of the software for various filings.

"We're the only state that has mandated electronic filing of charitable solicitations," she said. "Such organizations can't file paper in our state. It's all electronic."

Perhaps the biggest technology challenge facing Davidson's office is complying with the Help America Vote Act. "We are currently building a voter registration and election management system that will integrate all election records for the 64 counties," Davidson said. "In addition, the new statewide voter registration system will automatically download updated information from three state departments."

Updated information will be received by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Colorado Department of Corrections and the Department of Vital Statistics, she said, and the automatic connection with these statewide departments will automatically update the statewide voter registration list.

"If a voter dies, the Department of Vital Statistics will immediately notify the Secretary of State's Office so that voter will be removed from the voter rolls," she said. "This comprehensive system will keep the state voter rolls much cleaner."

-- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


Sharon Dawes
Director
Center for Technology in Government


Pioneering Digital Government

Can technology really change the way government works, improve the way it collaborates and shares information, and ultimately make life better for citizens?

Perhaps the only organization that has tried consistently to find answers to that question is the Albany, N.Y.-based Center for Technology in Government (CTG).

Since 1993, when she took over as director at CTG, Sharon Dawes has used partnerships, research and technology to build the knowledge that federal, state and local governments need to increase productivity, reduce costs, enhance quality and deliver better services.

The results have been both consistent and impressive:

  • 25 partnership projects with 57 government agencies, 42 corporate organizations and 14 academic institutions
  • 60 publications
  • 12 prototypes developed
  • 16 research grants and contracts worth more than $5.5 million
  • Numerous honors, including the Ford Foundation Innovations in American Government award.

    The specifics from just a few projects run under Dawes' leadership are equally impressive. The CTG, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, helped New York's Department of Motor Vehicles streamline how it issues vehicle titles by 70 days, saving the agency $3 million. It showed how the Adirondack Park Agency could cut customer waiting time by 99 percent. Most recently, CTG built a prototype that would allow local governments to sign on once to access multiple state databases and information systems -- no simple feat.

    It's the kind of project that has made the center a pioneer in digital government research.

    Having begun her career in government, working for one of the biggest state agencies in the country -- the New York State Department of Social Services -- Dawes understands the challenges and opportunities for public agencies and the overall government enterprise. She expanded her knowledge and leadership in the field while executive director of the New York State Forum for Information Resource Management and as an executive fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

    The secret behind CTG's success and what Dawes is most proud of is the center's "Smart IT" methodology that focuses on the earliest stages of IT initiatives -- defining the real problem, engaging stakeholders, understanding processes, considering alternatives and selecting key strategies before making commitments.

    The methodology works because of the center's dedicated team of researchers, according to Dawes.

    "Staff members here are stellar as individuals and as a team," she said. "I take great pride in having recognized their talent, and then watched them build relationships with government, academic
  • and corporate partners that have made a difference."

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Otto Doll
    CIO
    South Dakota


    Connecting Scattered Communities

    South Dakota is a large state with few people, but CIO Otto Doll helped span the distance between scattered communities with a statewide radio system.

    The system has more than 10,000 users, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, hospital emergency rooms, health clinics, transit bus drivers and state public safety officials.

    "The state established one system where everyone can talk to anyone else," Doll said. "As one would find if you come here to South Dakota, being small, being spread out, very often we need the support, we need the resources of neighboring communities. So it was very important for us to establish something that was ubiquitous across the whole state."

    South Dakota also has been quite successful at deploying technology in its K-12 school systems. "We're always able to implement capabilities, whether it's access to the Internet; high-speed access to the Internet; providing e-mail to all teachers, administrators and students; hosting their Web sites, etc.," Doll said.

    South Dakota help every school in the state tap into advanced IT resources, Doll said. "We wired every school in the state, all 660 school buildings, back in the '90s. We interconnected all of them through the high-speed wiring network the state has. We have video conferencing to every high school, every junior high, a number of the elementary schools, state offices, etc.," he said. "We didn't implement it in just some school districts or some percentage -- it's 100 percent."

    One principle that guides Doll's IT activities is the need to use taxpayer dollars efficiently.

    "You can look at my organization's strategic plan, and you'll see the first two strategies are sort of two sides of the same coin," he said. "On one hand, of course, we want to reduce the cost of IT wherever possible, but on the other hand, we want to reduce agency cost through use of IT."

    -- Jessica Jones, Managing Editor


    Jennifer M. Granholm
    Governor
    Michigan


    Building an Economic Powerhouse

    The United States has two foreign-born governors. One actor-turned-politician has grabbed plenty of headlines and publicity as he runs the nation's most populous state. The other, a mother of three originally from Vancouver, B.C., is governor of Michigan, a state with an industrial economy buffeted by the challenges of the Information Age and globalization.

    Like so many other governors sworn into office in 2002, Jennifer Granholm immediately tackled a massive budget deficit of $3 billion, leaving her little room to maneuver in launching new programs and other initiatives. Instead, she put her efforts into reviving an economy that lost a substantial number of high-paying jobs (unemployment in Michigan reached 7 percent in November 2004) while finding scarce funds for her priorities, including education, children and health care.

    Despite the obstacles, Granholm boosted the state's use of technology. Perhaps her most striking move was to hire Teresa Takai as Michigan's CIO. Takai -- with the solid backing of the governor -- moved quickly to put the state's IT infrastructure and services on a more corporate model, where enterprise solutions, good governance and accountability take precedence.

    Results emerged quickly. In September 2004, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers recognized two of Michigan's IT solutions for their excellence. The Electronic Filed Unemployment Claims Project allows citizens to submit unemployment claims from their homes using the Internet or phone. Since the system's launch, the state closed 43 branch offices and reduced paperwork..

    Michigan's Critical Incident Management System is a Web-based application using GIS that aids numerous first responders around
  • the state. Users can share information in real time.

    In 2004, the Center for Digital Government ranked Michigan No. 1 in its annual Digital States Survey, citing how the state changed the citizen and business experience through a broad suite of real-time transactional services.

    "We're using information technology to support and enhance the core functions of Michigan government, and to position our state as a global economic powerhouse in the 21st century," said Granholm when the rankings were announced. "Information technology is playing a critical role in every aspect of our work."

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Dr. Michael Hall
    Deputy State Superintendent, Information Technology
    Georgia Department of Education


    Changing the Course of Education

    When Michael Hall became principal of Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Ga., seven years ago, the school had fewer than 100 computers and no network in place. When Hall left last year, Houston County High was one of only two schools in the country named "Best of the Best" in the 2004 Twenty-First Century Schools of Distinction Award Program.

    Based on that track record, Hall was appointed by the Georgia Department of Education in 2004 to oversee administrative, educational and internal technology for the entire state. He also oversees the department's statewide Student Information System project.

    "I like the challenge of solving today's problems or developing new strategies with solutions that weren't invented 10 years ago and change so rapidly," Hall said. "Changes made in public-sector IT greatly impact the direction and sustainability of our society as we know it."

    Hall turned Houston County High into one of the few completely wireless schools in Georgia. More than 1,200 computers, 13 wireless labs and nine fixed labs now play an integral part in students' daily education at the facility.

    Hall said his biggest challenge is helping people understand the role of IT in a digital society.

    "Education is an area of the public sector that has the greatest impact on our future success, but yet is the least receptive to change," he said. "Providing 21st century learning environments for students today requires both philosophical and pedagogical changes. Twenty-first century learning environments promote student engagement, collaboration and individualized learning plans. Technology changes the role of the teacher to one of being a facilitator of information rather than the source of information."

    Hall said health care, economic development and education top his list of the biggest challenges facing government today.

    "Each area carries its own unique obstacles, and yet they also significantly impact the success of each other," he said. "Government will be required to make some tough choices on priorities and funding will be a major issue. Government will also be faced with some new IT challenges that will cause a significant change in the status quo. Connectivity, mobility and capability of digital cities are going to drastically change the way government functions and the types and number of services offered."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Bob Hanson
    CIO
    Sarasota County, Fla.


    Committed to Collaboration

    Bob Hanson sees the big picture.

    Hanson led Sarasota County's effort to acquire a massive data center that serves as a focal point for regional collaboration. He's consolidating countywide school and government data networks to unlock IT dollars for other projects. And he's working with two other counties to create a disaster recovery cooperative that would allow the jurisdictions to back each other up in case of emergency.

    Hanson views collaboration as the future for government, and he's building a track record that proves the wisdom of that approach.

    Several years ago, he convinced county officials to buy Arthur
  • Andersen's Sarasota data center after the firm sank under the weight of multiple accounting scandals. Now the $12 million facility -- purchased by Sarasota for about $2 million -- provides a bulletproof platform for county applications, and delivers an advanced budgeting and finance system to neighboring communities through an application service provider (ASP) arrangement.

    "The data center had the capacity to serve as a magnet to induce collaboration -- that's what inspired us on the ASP model," Hanson said. "Budget directors from six different communities now partner on this, so we have six minds working on how to best do this process. We're all getting a tremendous system for a sixth of the cost."

    Hanson, named CIO of the county school board late last year, sees similar benefits in combining separate school and government networks and data centers. "Bringing those two organizations together makes so much sense within our community," he said.

    Spurred by a relentless hurricane season, he's also forming a regional disaster recovery cooperative with his counterparts in Florida's Martin and Collier counties.

    "If Sarasota County got hit and I lost some critical systems, I could roll them over to Martin County -- which is across the state," Hanson said. "We would be sharing each other's facilities to address critical needs."

    Backed by forward-thinking county leaders and a talented IT staff, Hanson said he intends to continue searching for opportunities to collaborate. "I think this is how governments will leapfrog past the private sector."

    -- Steve Towns, Editor


    Norman Jacknis
    CIO
    Westchester County, N.Y.


    Untangling Government Complexity

    When Norman Jacknis was in the private sector, he could grumble about issues, but couldn't do much about them. "Here, if I see a problem, I can help solve it," he said.

    Among Westchester County government's biggest challenges is homeland security, and since the county is just north of New York City, it was impacted by 9/11. "We've had everything from setting up a bio-terrorism analysis network where we collect and integrate data from all the emergency rooms around the county, to actually writing our own software for managing emergencies, for handling mass care situations," Jacknis said. "We're creating a wireless data network so we can video conference from the scene of an emergency."

    A long-term challenge, Jacknis said, is simplifying government's interaction with citizens. Many agencies assume citizens understand complex government structures; therefore, people can spend hours trying to figure out which department to contact for a particular service.

    "We've got to do something about that," Jacknis said. "It's getting worse because a lot of us are putting more and more information on our Web sites. We've got, I think, one of the most successful Web sites around, just in terms of the number of people who actually use it, but I'm sure they're not getting the full potential out of it."

    Besides Westchester's success in creating a 500-mile fiber network connecting all government offices, libraries and local police departments a few years ago, Jacknis points to the county's Web site as a significant accomplishment. "More adults used our Web site in the last 12 months than who subscribe to either of the major newspapers in the county," he said, adding that reaching the public has been an issue.

    "We're in the New York metropolitan area, but there is no local television or radio news station, because everything's centered in Manhattan. So this has become a very important mechanism for us to communicate to the public," said Jacknis. "And we've gone beyond the Web. We have voice recognition, so you can get on your telephone, call up our computers and talk to a computer to find out where the cheapest gasoline price is in your neighborhood."
  • oking to revamp its campaign finance software so political candidates can make much more extensive use of the software for various filings.

    "We're the only state that has mandated electronic filing of charitable solicitations," she said. "Such organizations can't file paper in our state. It's all electronic."

    Perhaps the biggest technology challenge facing Davidson's office is complying with the Help America Vote Act. "We are currently building a voter registration and election management system that will integrate all election records for the 64 counties," Davidson said. "In addition, the new statewide voter registration system will automatically download updated information from three state departments."

    Updated information will be received by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Colorado Department of Corrections and the Department of Vital Statistics, she said, and the automatic connection with these statewide departments will automatically update the statewide voter registration list.

    "If a voter dies, the Department of Vital Statistics will immediately notify the Secretary of State's Office so that voter will be removed from the voter rolls," she said. "This comprehensive system will keep the state voter rolls much cleaner."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Sharon Dawes
    Director
    Center for Technology in Government


    Pioneering Digital Government

    Can technology really change the way government works, improve the way it collaborates and shares information, and ultimately make life better for citizens?

    Perhaps the only organization that has tried consistently to find answers to that question is the Albany, N.Y.-based Center for Technology in Government (CTG).

    Since 1993, when she took over as director at CTG, Sharon Dawes has used partnerships, research and technology to build the knowledge that federal, state and local governments need to increase productivity, reduce costs, enhance quality and deliver better services.

    The results have been both consistent and impressive:

  • 25 partnership projects with 57 government agencies, 42 corporate organizations and 14 academic institutions
  • 60 publications
  • 12 prototypes developed
  • 16 research grants and contracts worth more than $5.5 million
  • Numerous honors, including the Ford Foundation Innovations in American Government award.

    The specifics from just a few projects run under Dawes' leadership are equally impressive. The CTG, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, helped New York's Department of Motor Vehicles streamline how it issues vehicle titles by 70 days, saving the agency $3 million. It showed how the Adirondack Park Agency could cut customer waiting time by 99 percent. Most recently, CTG built a prototype that would allow local governments to sign on once to access multiple state databases and information systems -- no simple feat.

    It's the kind of project that has made the center a pioneer in digital government research.

    Having begun her career in government, working for one of the biggest state agencies in the country -- the New York State Department of Social Services -- Dawes understands the challenges and opportunities for public agencies and the overall government enterprise. She expanded her knowledge and leadership in the field while executive director of the New York State Forum for Information Resource Management and as an executive fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

    The secret behind CTG's success and what Dawes is most proud of is the center's "Smart IT" methodology that focuses on the earliest stages of IT initiatives -- defining the real problem, engaging stakeholders, understanding processes, considering alternatives and selecting key strategies before making commitments.

    The methodology works because of the center's dedicated team of researchers, according to Dawes.

    "Staff members here are stellar as individuals and as a team," she said. "I take great pride in having recognized their talent, and then watched them build relationships with government, academic and corporate partners that have made a difference."

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Otto Doll
    CIO
    South Dakota


    Connecting Scattered Communities

    South Dakota is a large state with few people, but CIO Otto Doll helped span the distance between scattered communities with a statewide radio system.

    The system has more than 10,000 users, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, hospital emergency rooms, health clinics, transit bus drivers and state public safety officials.

    "The state established one system where everyone can talk to anyone else," Doll said. "As one would find if you come here to South Dakota, being small, being spread out, very often we need the support, we need the resources of neighboring communities. So it was very important for us to establish something that was ubiquitous across the whole state."

    South Dakota also has been quite successful at deploying technology in its K-12 school systems. "We're always able to implement capabilities, whether it's access to the Internet; high-speed access to the Internet; providing e-mail to all teachers, administrators and students; hosting their Web sites, etc.," Doll said.

    South Dakota help every school in the state tap into advanced IT resources, Doll said. "We wired every school in the state, all 660 school buildings, back in the '90s. We interconnected all of them through the high-speed wiring network the state has. We have video conferencing to every high school, every junior high, a number of the elementary schools, state offices, etc.," he said. "We didn't implement it in just some school districts or some percentage -- it's 100 percent."

    One principle that guides Doll's IT activities is the need to use taxpayer dollars efficiently.

    "You can look at my organization's strategic plan, and you'll see the first two strategies are sort of two sides of the same coin," he said. "On one hand, of course, we want to reduce the cost of IT wherever possible, but on the other hand, we want to reduce agency cost through use of IT."

    -- Jessica Jones, Managing Editor


    Jennifer M. Granholm
    Governor
    Michigan


    Building an Economic Powerhouse

    The United States has two foreign-born governors. One actor-turned-politician has grabbed plenty of headlines and publicity as he runs the nation's most populous state. The other, a mother of three originally from Vancouver, B.C., is governor of Michigan, a state with an industrial economy buffeted by the challenges of the Information Age and globalization.

    Like so many other governors sworn into office in 2002, Jennifer Granholm immediately tackled a massive budget deficit of $3 billion, leaving her little room to maneuver in launching new programs and other initiatives. Instead, she put her efforts into reviving an economy that lost a substantial number of high-paying jobs (unemployment in Michigan reached 7 percent in November 2004) while finding scarce funds for her priorities, including education, children and health care.

    Despite the obstacles, Granholm boosted the state's use of technology. Perhaps her most striking move was to hire Teresa Takai as Michigan's CIO. Takai -- with the solid backing of the governor -- moved quickly to put the state's IT infrastructure and services on a more corporate model, where enterprise solutions, good governance and accountability take precedence.

    Results emerged quickly. In September 2004, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers recognized two of Michigan's IT solutions for their excellence. The Electronic Filed Unemployment Claims Project allows citizens to submit unemployment claims from their homes using the Internet or phone. Since the system's launch, the state closed 43 branch offices and reduced paperwork..

    Michigan's Critical Incident Management System is a Web-based application using GIS that aids numerous first responders around the state. Users can share information in real time.

    In 2004, the Center for Digital Government ranked Michigan No. 1 in its annual Digital States Survey, citing how the state changed the citizen and business experience through a broad suite of real-time transactional services.

    "We're using information technology to support and enhance the core functions of Michigan government, and to position our state as a global economic powerhouse in the 21st century," said Granholm when the rankings were announced. "Information technology is playing a critical role in every aspect of our work."

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Dr. Michael Hall
    Deputy State Superintendent, Information Technology
    Georgia Department of Education


    Changing the Course of Education

    When Michael Hall became principal of Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Ga., seven years ago, the school had fewer than 100 computers and no network in place. When Hall left last year, Houston County High was one of only two schools in the country named "Best of the Best" in the 2004 Twenty-First Century Schools of Distinction Award Program.

    Based on that track record, Hall was appointed by the Georgia Department of Education in 2004 to oversee administrative, educational and internal technology for the entire state. He also oversees the department's statewide Student Information System project.

    "I like the challenge of solving today's problems or developing new strategies with solutions that weren't invented 10 years ago and change so rapidly," Hall said. "Changes made in public-sector IT greatly impact the direction and sustainability of our society as we know it."

    Hall turned Houston County High into one of the few completely wireless schools in Georgia. More than 1,200 computers, 13 wireless labs and nine fixed labs now play an integral part in students' daily education at the facility.

    Hall said his biggest challenge is helping people understand the role of IT in a digital society.

    "Education is an area of the public sector that has the greatest impact on our future success, but yet is the least receptive to change," he said. "Providing 21st century learning environments for students today requires both philosophical and pedagogical changes. Twenty-first century learning environments promote student engagement, collaboration and individualized learning plans. Technology changes the role of the teacher to one of being a facilitator of information rather than the source of information."

    Hall said health care, economic development and education top his list of the biggest challenges facing government today.

    "Each area carries its own unique obstacles, and yet they also significantly impact the success of each other," he said. "Government will be required to make some tough choices on priorities and funding will be a major issue. Government will also be faced with some new IT challenges that will cause a significant change in the status quo. Connectivity, mobility and capability of digital cities are going to drastically change the way government functions and the types and number of services offered."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Bob Hanson
    CIO
    Sarasota County, Fla.


    Committed to Collaboration

    Bob Hanson sees the big picture.

    Hanson led Sarasota County's effort to acquire a massive data center that serves as a focal point for regional collaboration. He's consolidating countywide school and government data networks to unlock IT dollars for other projects. And he's working with two other counties to create a disaster recovery cooperative that would allow the jurisdictions to back each other up in case of emergency.

    Hanson views collaboration as the future for government, and he's building a track record that proves the wisdom of that approach.

    Several years ago, he convinced county officials to buy Arthur Andersen's Sarasota data center after the firm sank under the weight of multiple accounting scandals. Now the $12 million facility -- purchased by Sarasota for about $2 million -- provides a bulletproof platform for county applications, and delivers an advanced budgeting and finance system to neighboring communities through an application service provider (ASP) arrangement.

    "The data center had the capacity to serve as a magnet to induce collaboration -- that's what inspired us on the ASP model," Hanson said. "Budget directors from six different communities now partner on this, so we have six minds working on how to best do this process. We're all getting a tremendous system for a sixth of the cost."

    Hanson, named CIO of the county school board late last year, sees similar benefits in combining separate school and government networks and data centers. "Bringing those two organizations together makes so much sense within our community," he said.

    Spurred by a relentless hurricane season, he's also forming a regional disaster recovery cooperative with his counterparts in Florida's Martin and Collier counties.

    "If Sarasota County got hit and I lost some critical systems, I could roll them over to Martin County -- which is across the state," Hanson said. "We would be sharing each other's facilities to address critical needs."

    Backed by forward-thinking county leaders and a talented IT staff, Hanson said he intends to continue searching for opportunities to collaborate. "I think this is how governments will leapfrog past the private sector."

    -- Steve Towns, Editor


    Norman Jacknis
    CIO
    Westchester County, N.Y.


    Untangling Government Complexity

    When Norman Jacknis was in the private sector, he could grumble about issues, but couldn't do much about them. "Here, if I see a problem, I can help solve it," he said.

    Among Westchester County government's biggest challenges is homeland security, and since the county is just north of New York City, it was impacted by 9/11. "We've had everything from setting up a bio-terrorism analysis network where we collect and integrate data from all the emergency rooms around the county, to actually writing our own software for managing emergencies, for handling mass care situations," Jacknis said. "We're creating a wireless data network so we can video conference from the scene of an emergency."

    A long-term challenge, Jacknis said, is simplifying government's interaction with citizens. Many agencies assume citizens understand complex government structures; therefore, people can spend hours trying to figure out which department to contact for a particular service.

    "We've got to do something about that," Jacknis said. "It's getting worse because a lot of us are putting more and more information on our Web sites. We've got, I think, one of the most successful Web sites around, just in terms of the number of people who actually use it, but I'm sure they're not getting the full potential out of it."

    Besides Westchester's success in creating a 500-mile fiber network connecting all government offices, libraries and local police departments a few years ago, Jacknis points to the county's Web site as a significant accomplishment. "More adults used our Web site in the last 12 months than who subscribe to either of the major newspapers in the county," he said, adding that reaching the public has been an issue.

    "We're in the New York metropolitan area, but there is no local television or radio news station, because everything's centered in Manhattan. So this has become a very important mechanism for us to communicate to the public," said Jacknis. "And we've gone beyond the Web. We have voice recognition, so you can get on your telephone, call up our computers and talk to a computer to find out where the cheapest gasoline price is in your neighborhood."

    -- Jessica Jones, Managing Editor


    Thomas M. Jarrett
    CIO/Secretary, Department of Technology and Information
    Delaware


    Starting From Scratch

    Tom Jarrett became Delaware's first CIO in September 2001. His first assignment? Get a brand-new, Cabinet-level department off the ground and running in two years.

    The Department of Technology and Information (DTI), created by the General Assembly in June 2001 to replace the state's Office of Information Services, officially opened for business in May 2003. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the new agency is that DTI employees work outside the protections of the state's civil service system.

    Jarrett said the process, while certainly not easy, wasn't as much of a nightmare as it could have been.

    "Being a part of that process and infusing a lot of new people into the organization, I've truly enjoyed working with an excellent group of people who are smart, very motivated and share the same set of values I have," Jarrett said.

    "It's a challenge I don't think anybody can truly appreciate. Even the people who charged us with doing it don't truly appreciate how difficult it is to dissolve an organization and build a new one from scratch," he said. "From scratch means redesigning every job description, the pay scales, everything, and in less than 18 months."

    Initial results show agencies are pleased with the DTI's day-to-day work so far, and Jarrett's employees now can focus on entrepreneurial ideas. The state is in the middle of several ERP implementations, including replacing Delaware's entire financial system.

    The biggest IT challenge to governments overall is effective lobbying for IT, he said, citing a fear that IT, once again, is being viewed as just another capital expense -- an expense that's tempting to cut first.

    "We need to put a human face on IT because a lot of people never think about that," he said. "They just want to talk about the boxes and the commodity aspect of IT. Well, the boxes don't make it all work. People make it all work."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Ted Kanavas
    State Senator
    Wisconsin


    Reshaping the IT Landscape

    Sen. Ted Kanavas -- who spent 12 years in the software industry before being elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2001 -- uses his experience and knowledge to reshape Wisconsin's IT landscape.

    Kanavas is committed to creating a more streamlined statewide IT infrastructure and pivoting that into a healthy fiscal policy. "Wisconsin is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on IT, and we have to know where everything is and what we have on hand," he said. "Streamlining our IT will put us on a path to fiscal sanity."

    Part of that process, Kanavas said, is changing the culture of government. "Government's biggest challenge is the idea that the state cannot continue down the bureaucratic pathway. It must end the mindset that government is just government and cannot be run like a business. Government needs to get away from the idea that all state agencies and entities are separate when it comes to IT."

    The big hurdle to that end is a lack of knowledge about information infrastructure and how to run a business, Kanavas said. "Most state employees have not spent much time outside of public service. They have gotten trapped in a culture where there is little concern about the state going bankrupt."

    Kanavas has pushed to make Wisconsin one of the nation's top 10 states in terms of broadband deployment, which he views as a key ingredient for economic growth.

    Prior to becoming senator, he and two friends founded Premier Software Technologies, which provided middleware solutions
  • to some of the IT industry's biggest names. In five years, the company grew into to a multimillion-dollar entity and was eventually sold.

    Kanavas relishes the problem-solving aspect of government and takes great pride in his business background. "When a person encounters a problem with government, they feel as though the deck is stacked against them because they are facing such a large bureaucracy," he said. "My position enables me to navigate the system from the inside and help them out."

    -- Jim McKay, Justice Editor


    J. Clark Kelso
    CIO
    California


    California's Turnaround Specialist

    After two successful stints as a turnaround expert at troubled state agencies, it's no surprise J. Clark Kelso was asked to be interim CIO of California in early 2002.

    He already resurrected the state's Department of Insurance after a scandal that included the resignation of the department's commissioner. That was followed by then-Gov. Gray Davis nominating Kelso to lead the California Earthquake Authority, which was being investigated by the Bureau of State Audits.

    Kelso took over as interim CIO just a couple of months before California's Department of Information Technology was allowed to wither on the vine by legislators, who didn't pass legislation extending the life of the troubled agency. Kelso had no IT agency and no statutory authority. He's said in past interviews with Government Technology magazine that having no regular CIO trappings actually worked in his favor.

    "There are two things at this point I'm most pleased about," he said. "We've made such substantial progress on consolidation of our major data centers, and we're very close to the very formal statutory consolidation. We've made an enormous amount of progress in getting the two data centers to work together.

    "The second is the publication of our state strategic plan for IT," he said. "That was the result of a nice 18-month process that wrapped up in November/December last year. We probably had 50, 60 people who touched the document itself, plus a bunch of others who were, in essence, providing support in decision-making over the last 18 months."

    Getting to this stage required Kelso to do plenty of what he says he's good at: "boundary spanning." These talents are put to good use in his other title as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Special Adviser on Information Technology.

    There's a reason Kelso is one of a handful of Davis appointees kept on after Schwarzenegger's regime change: He has managed to bring the beginnings of cohesion to IT in California's executive branch, which is no mean feat.

    "In an organization as large as California state government, you don't do this by dictating results," he said. "You do it by respecting people's views and listening to them, and them respecting your views and everybody beginning to develop a consensus and a realization about what is best for everyone, even though it, at times, requires some individual sacrifice.

    "It's the basic problem of collective action."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Simone Marstiller
    CIO
    Florida


    A New Breed of CIO

    Simone Marstiller, appointed CIO of Florida in May 2004, doesn't hide that she's not an "uber geek," believing she's part of a trend toward state CIOs without hardcore technology backgrounds.

    "The greatest thing about this job is that I work for a man who believes passionately that we -- government -- can do better," Marstiller said. "It's inspiring, and bringing the state closer to achieving the governor's vision is my one and only goal."

    Her political and managerial skills were tested immediately in the CIO post. Marstiller got the job after the previous CIO resigned and the
  • Florida Auditor General issued a report saying the State Technology Office mismanaged large outsourcing contracts. Marstiller quickly cancelled the contracts, worth $170 million, and put them out for rebid.

    Now, however, Florida is deploying an ERP system and improving its accounting and cash-management subsystems. Over the next 18 to 24 months, Florida also will transition to MyFloridaNet, a statewide, multipurpose communications network that will support enterprise applications and government business processes across state agencies.

    Perhaps the most significant impediments to IT reform in government are history and reluctance to change, Marstiller said. "The entities comprising the government enterprise have long operated independently of one another, and the, 'We've always done it this way' attitude is pervasive," she said. "It's a challenge to get them to broaden their perspective and be more enterprise-centric. Some might argue that the legislative process also impedes progress and reform. To overcome these challenges, you must have a solid business case for whatever you're proposing, and demonstrate value to the individual agency, the enterprise and the citizen."

    Marstiller is most proud of Florida's work in law enforcement communications. "We've put Florida in a position to become the first state in the nation to have a statewide seamless, fully interoperable law enforcement and first responder radio network," she said. "All five phases of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System became operational in April 2004. This digital system serves more than 6,500 users with 14,000 radios in patrol cars, boats, motorcycles and aircraft -- wherever they are in the state."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Ron May
    State Senator
    Colorado


    Pushing the Pace of Change

    Sen. Ron May is tireless in his approach to helping government help the people.

    "I've tried for 10 years now to pass an Internet portal bill," he said. "Finally got it done last year. It's not like in the business world. In the business world, if you want to get something done, you find somebody and you have an agreement on what you have to accomplish; you shake hands and go to work."

    The senator is accustomed to making quick decisions as president and owner of May Corp., a firm specializing in computer consulting for small businesses. May wishes it were that way in government, where he bridles at the slow pace of change. "I've never seen anything in my life that takes so long," he said.

    May said the culture must change if government is to become more efficient. "These guys protect everything they've got. They don't want to modernize. In a lot of cases, they don't even want IT because they think it means their job is going to go away."

    Still, he's managed to make progress. For instance, May is responsible for a bill-tracking system and a wireless network throughout Colorado's Capitol.

    Despite his impatience, May tries to take a more subtle approach to changing government. "In the business world, if I've got more people than I need, I just cut back. You can't do that in government. I try not to talk about saving but about modernizing; we're going to be more efficient, and we're going to respond to what the public needs more quickly."

    -- Jim McKay, Justice Editor


    Ruth Ann Minner
    Governor
    Delaware


    Overhauling Delaware IT

    Gov. Ruth Ann Minner is responsible for giving Delaware CIO Tom Jarrett that almost impossible first assignment: Get a brand-new, Cabinet-level department running in two years.

    She knew something had to change in the state, and she made it a priority.

    "Reforming how Delaware uses technology was one of my first orders of business as governor," Minner said. "Early in my first term, my
  • second executive order was to establish a task force to 'fix' our Office of Information Systems, which was not providing the technology services our state government needed."

    The task force was made up of elected officials, government officials, and most importantly, Delaware citizens working in the private technology sector, she said, and the task force recommended that the former state IT organization be completely dissolved and rebuilt from the ground up.

    "The key was to rebuild our IT agency, not as a typical civil-service agency, but more similar in structure to the private sector, with performance-based pay and salaries based on market conditions," Minner said. "This has tremendously increased the talent pool within our IT organization and has made it the envy of many other state agencies."

    None of this would have happened if Minner had not acted on the recommendations of the task force. Her office used the results of the task force as the foundation of IT reform legislation that the state's General Assembly passed into law.

    As many states have found out the hard way, the executive and legislative branches agreeing on just about anything is difficult enough, let alone on a radical restructuring of a state agency.

    Delaware's small geographic size, coupled with its strategic location near the East Coast's major cities, provides the state with unique opportunities in the technology environment, Minner said.

    "Although our population is relatively small, we have a highly skilled and educated technology work force, including many who opt for early retirements and second careers in state government," she said. "Our Legislature is smaller than most -- with 62 members -- and the collaboration between our corporate leaders, legislators and community activists is made easier since most know each other on a first-name basis. It is still relatively easy to bring statewide decision-makers together quickly when necessary."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Matt Miszewski
    CIO
    Wisconsin


    Watching a Different Bottom Line

    Since being appointed CIO in March 2003, Matt Miszewski has built a long list of credits.

    He implemented an "extended enterprise" approach to IT management, which makes local governments direct partners with the state in major IT projects. Miszewski coordinated efforts to reduce IT-related spending across state agencies by $40 million for the 2003-2005 biennium. And as division administrator for the Wisconsin Division of Enterprise Technology, he implemented initiatives that save an additional $30 million per year at state and local levels.

    Miszewski thrives on what he calls a different yet more compelling bottom line than what exists in the private sector. "In the private sector, the bottom line is well defined and easy to articulate -- profit," he said. "The bottom line for us is simply different, harder to define, difficult to measure but far more compelling."

    He said the public-sector bottom line is about working toward stronger families, healthy kids, great schools, better health care, a better economy and a sustainable fiscal picture for state government.

    "Waking up every morning and understanding that the trials and tribulations of the day are all aimed at accomplishing that bottom line makes the work not only enjoyable but energizing."

    The challenges are great in state government, and one of Wisconsin's biggest upcoming is deploying a single ERP system for the state. "We have over 52 different agencies and boards, which have grown accustomed to differing business practices and systems to support these practices," Miszewski said. "In cases where those practices are aimed at the same business function, we will have to harmonize the process throughout state government."

    That will be an enormous challenge but one that Wisconsin has a head start on, Miszewski said.

    "We will address it by listening actively to the
  • incredible wealth of subject matter from experts throughout our enterprise, have them take the actual lead on the project, have them drive the change and simply overwhelm the buy-in problem," Miszewski said. "We started with gathering and analyzing the data, and building a solid business case upfront."

    For government in general, the biggest challenge on the horizon is learning how to increase the pace with which they adapt to a changing environment, Miszewski said. "All organizations change and adapt, but government has always remained at a slower pace to increase stability in our society."

    A key to government adapting and increasing the pace with which it responds to changes, he said, is to change the thought paradigm in government. "We no longer think that we can't perform at the same level or better than the private sector," Miszewski said. "We no longer think of ourselves as a small enterprise only made up of Cabinet agencies."

    -- Jim McKay, Justice Editor


    Michael Moore
    CIO
    San Diego County, Calif.


    Saving the Alliance

    Michael Moore became CIO of San Diego County in November 2002 -- not exactly the best time to take the job. In October 1999, the county signed a seven-year $644 million contract with the Pennant Alliance to outsource all county IT operations, and the contract's first few years weren't pleasant.

    The lead vendor for the alliance, CSC, was fined $2 million for failing to meet service goals during the contract's first year. The vendor also faced a $250,000 fine for not migrating county employees to a common e-mail platform.

    Before joining San Diego County, Moore worked for SAIC, a member of the alliance, for 11 years, serving as an operation manager and corporate vice president responsible for State and Local Information Technology Outsourcing. When he became CIO, Moore spent a considerable amount of effort working with the alliance to turn around the outsourcing initiative.

    Now the initiative is viewed by many as a good model for public/private collaboration on IT in local government.

    Moore said he enjoys trying to change the culture of government work.

    "I was fearful when I came to the public sector that change would be something that wasn't welcome, wanted or doable," Moore said. "I've found that change is not only welcome, but it's very doable."

    San Diego County, like many others, faces a significant challenge in improving internal business processes. It's not necessarily the work involved in scrutinizing how things are done, it's taking the results of that analysis and devising enterprise policies.

    "The hardest part about public-sector IT, in my view, is you have 50 very disparate business units -- unlike companies," he said. "If you're in the oil business, your company may have different divisions, but they're all in the oil business. The hardest thing I've had to deal with since joining the public sector is making enterprise decisions that work for 50 disparate business units."

    Moore said the county will next focus on implementing a property tax software package that integrates all agencies involved in property assessment, and property tax collection and remittance. The county also plans to set foundation for mobile applications for health and human services staff.

    Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Danny Murphy
    CIO
    Phoenix, Ariz.


    Maximizing Technology's Value

    Phoenix cracked the top 10 for its population category in the 2004 Digital Cities Survey -- the first time the city placed that high.

    As CIO, Danny Murphy said one of his biggest roles is to collaborate with the mayor, City Council and the city manager to get the most value out of technology from both an investment standpoint and a practical
  • standpoint.

    "That's primarily my job -- to work with department heads and the city manager to make sure department heads are comfortable and assured the technology is being applied properly," he said. "Working with the top managers is how we achieve getting technology to be part of everyday business."

    That approach helped Phoenix become the first SAP implementation in a local government in the country.

    Murphy said work on a $120 million wireless communication system for public safety and other agencies in Phoenix and 18 surrounding towns and cities is one of his proudest accomplishments.

    "We now have about 4,000 police officers on the system," he said. "This is a digital, 800 MHz system that's Project 25 compliant. That's a bond-funded program that the citizens approved. One of the things we're very proud of is that citizens here approve technology bond programs that allow us to do a lot of the things we do outside of normal operating budgets as they continue to decrease."

    It's a vote of confidence from the citizens, he said, because the projects go before a citizens' committee appointed by the mayor and City Council. Getting the system up and running also required a regional approach, not necessarily the easiest road to travel.

    "It's a primary goal of the mayor to enhance the regional efforts among his colleagues," Murphy said. "This system is very consistent with the mayor's vision of Phoenix working with neighboring cities and towns to leverage public investment and provide services."

    -- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor


    Patrick Pizzella
    CIO/Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
    U.S. Department of Labor


    Making the Grade

    When President George W. Bush looks to see who tops his President Management Agenda (PMA) scorecard for e-government, he sees Patrick Pizzella, CIO for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

    On Sept. 30, 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) upgraded the DOL's e-government initiative to green, the highest score allowed by the PMA. E-government isn't the only area in which the DOL has done well. Security, IT investment planning, enterprise architecture and a host of other critical functions have also improved under Pizzella's watch.

    The man behind these achievements has spent much of his career in public service. He was appointed to his current job by President Bush in 2001 and has been making marks in the federal CIO community ever since. Under the direction of DOL Secretary Elaine Chao, who endorsed a blueprint for transforming the department into a digital agency, Pizzella revamped major operations with IT while balancing the twin challenges of cost and performance.

    The DOL is the managing partner for a Web site that allows visitors to determine their potential eligibility for benefits programs. Launched in 2002, the portal was the first of the OMB's 24 e-government initiatives to go live. Originally designed to provide access to 55 federal programs, it now provides access to 1,000 federal and state benefits programs, making it one of the few truly intergovernmental e-government services online today. Since it's inception, nearly 15 million people have visited the site.

    Under Pizzella's leadership, the DOL boosted the number of IT business cases accepted by the OMB to 100 percent in September 2004, up from just 50 percent in fall 2003. Meanwhile performance measurement strategies reduced cost overruns or shortfalls from 30 percent of IT development projects to less than 10 percent.

    Pizzella also streamlined the department's infrastructure with a common e-mail system, automated procurement, automated property tracking, enterprisewide directory services, as well as a safety and health information management system for worker compensation claims.

    But Pizzella singles out the moment when the DOL received the green rating from the OMB for its e-government initiative as his most rewarding accomplishment so far
  • as CIO for the department.

    "That represents both a departmental accomplishment and the fulfillment of a presidential initiative," he said. But it isn't individual accomplishments that keep Pizzella going to work each day -- the reward is public service, he said.

    "It's the ability to make a difference in the way government works on behalf of my fellow Americans."

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Peter Quinn
    CIO
    Massachusetts


    Challenging the Status Quo

    It may not be completely fair, but certain CIOs will be remembered for a single project: Mark Forman and e-government, George Newstrom and Virginia's IT consolidation program, Gino Menchini and New York City's 311 call center.

    Whether he likes it or not, Peter Quinn will best be remembered for open source. Yet Quinn's visionary effort to introduce open source to the public sector has little to do with using free software and everything to do with changing the way government purchases, adopts and implements technology.

    Quinn became CIO in September 2002, and at first, his appointment had all the appearances of a very short shelf life. The lame-duck governor at the time had barely two months left in her administration, but fortune shined on Quinn when Mitt Romney, a successful businessman, won the gubernatorial election running on a reform platform.

    Romney was determined to try dramatic new approaches to governing, and that included proposing some radical transformations to state government in Massachusetts. Romney saw fit to keep Quinn on as his top technology officer.

    Just as Gov. Mark Warner's reform-oriented leadership opened the doors to change IT in Virginia, so too did Romney's new ideas lead to some nontraditional thinking, including the "open policy" announced in late 2003 concerning IT standards and software.

    In Quinn, Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Eric Kriss had the perfect person to lead the charge for changing attitudes and actions within state. Little did he know Quinn would take the initiative to a new level, advocating the principles of open source as a way for other state governments and localities to collaborate on IT, with the ultimate goal of building applications that are shared openly and democratically.

    Of course, radical ideas can generate serious opposition. Sure enough, Quinn soon found himself at the center of a controversy as members of the powerful Massachusetts Software Council, legislators and even some advocacy groups slammed the new policy. At one point, he and Kriss were accused of advocating principles of communism.

    Though the policy was later modified, Quinn never retreated from his core principles of pushing for change in the way the state procured and used technology.

    Well before Quinn became known as an advocate of open source, he spoke strongly about the need for government agencies to leave their silos and join together in communities of interest.

    "We are trying to get people to change their thought, to go beyond their traditional boundaries and participate with the other IT professionals in the commonwealth. By doing this we can solve the collective problems and draw on the resources from the peers in the other agencies, which you may not have in our particular area," he told the Center for Digital Government in an interview conducted early in 2003.

    Today, Quinn is even more blunt about the need for change, reminding audiences that the "cost of government is not sustainable in its present form." Quinn makes it clear he's not advocating that government walk away from proprietary solutions. He just wants government to start thinking differently and use every tool at its disposal to build solutions that transform how the public sector works. Many in the public-sector IT community talk about doing this, but few actually try to do
  • something about it. Peter Quinn is one of the few.

    -- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor


    Graham Richard
    Mayor
    Ft. Wayne, Ind.


    The Power of Thinking Big

    Just a few years ago, Ft. Wayne, Ind., boasted one of the highest numbers of manufacturing jobs per capita in the nation, but economic shifts slashed employment in basic manufacturing and spawned advanced manufacturing opportunities that demanded more knowledge and skills from workers.

    Under Mayor Graham Richard's leadership, the city is using technology to improve government effectiveness and drive the development of that new economy. Richard has overseen the implementation of a range of technological innovations, including automated meter reading and a broadband system that allows cops to use in-vehicle computers wirelessly and securely. The city is embarking on a partnership with Verizon to further develop broadband in the city.

    "To move it to the innovation economy, it's not just about being in high technology," Richard said. "It's about how do you create initial new companies, and help the older companies grow and prosper with innovation and both technology and training."

    The mayor said his biggest challenge ahead is getting people in the city to think big. "I've got to continue to get the people to be excited about the future," he said. "To see the sort of future you won't see looking in the rearview mirror. Technology that we've invested in the city and now this broadband; all of that helps people look forward."

    Richard said optimism is taking hold in the city.

    "I think there's a sense that Ft. Wayne is on the move. There is a can-do attitude, a more optimistic spirit. Even though we've had significant job losses of old-line manufacturing companies, it's a community awareness or sense that we are moving, that good things are happening."

    Jim McKay, Justice Editor


    Kurt Snyder
    Director and Counsel of Trial Court Technology,
    Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration


    Leaving the Dark Ages

    Kurt Snyder started with a clean slate when he took over IT operations for the Indiana Supreme Court in 2000. That's because Indiana's judicial branch was in the Dark Ages when it came to technology.

    Now, thanks to Snyder, judges statewide have Internet and e-mail access, free computer training should they need it, and a modern case management system. And all judicial employees have access to an online legal research system.

    "I have an entrepreneurial spirit," Snyder said. "This is a way to take advantage of that entrepreneurial spirit in a government job because there is so much room for growth."

    In the Indiana Supreme Court, there's been plenty of progress in a branch of government where growth can be slow and painful. Snyder said his toughest task may be convincing powerful government officials to work differently.

    "Getting elected officials to work together can be difficult at times, and judges are some of the most independent-minded elected officials you could have," he said. "Getting those things changed [standardization, centralization] is difficult to do. So a county [court] that has never been told what do to by someone else -- it's difficult for them to change."

    Snyder oversees a staff of nine as director of the Indiana Judicial Technology and Automation Committee project office. He said getting judges from 92 counties to work together is like herding cats. The solution is good communications. "You talk to them," he said. "You really have to figure out what makes them tick and show them how you can help them by working together."

    It helps that Snyder set up a program where judicial employees can get computer training
  • through a local community college. "At our expense, we have trained literally hundreds of people," Snyder said. "It's been enormously helpful to bring up the level of understanding of computers. We have some people who have never used a computer."

    Snyder holds a doctorate of Jurisprudence from Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis. He was the assistant consultant on Legal Education to the American Bar Association (ABA) and took its Legal Education Section's Internet presence from one Web page to the most visited site on the ABA network.

    -- Jim McKay, Justice Editor


    Teresa Takai
    CIO
    Michigan


    Centralizing for Success

    Perhaps it's no surprise that Teresa Takai proved a perfect fit as Michigan's CIO. Named to the position two years ago -- at the midpoint of Michigan's ambitious IT centralization initiative -- Takai learned to navigate large-scale consolidation initiatives as an executive at EDS and Ford Motor Co.

    "I was able to bring some experience, having been through the turmoil that hits you," said Takai. She provided a steady hand at the tiller as Michigan moved IT operations from 19 executive branch agencies into a central technology organization, a process Takai called "emotionally trying" for many of the state's IT professionals.

    Centralization may have been painful, but the results are impressive. Building on mainframe and telecommunications consolidation completed several years ago, Michigan is consolidating servers, e-mail systems, and file and print services. In addition, Takai's Department of Information Technology runs a statewide technology help desk and provides desktop support for executive branch agencies.

    That sort of progress earned Michigan widespread recognition, including a No. 1 ranking in the Center for Digital Government's 2004 Digital States Survey. The unified approach also simplifies the task of aligning state IT operations with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's policy goals.

    "Because all of our IT is focused in a single area, the governor doesn't have to think, 'If I want to accomplish this, which IT program in which agency do I need to make that happen?'" said Takai. "That's a very strong benefit."

    Indeed, Takai's agency developed an action plan that directly links IT activities with specific policy objectives.

    "All of our initiatives are directly tied to where the Cabinet agencies are going, which is directly tied to the governor's objectives," she said. "So we feel very good that the things we're working on and spending money on are going to deliver value to the citizens of Michigan."

    -- Steve Towns, Editor


    Robert E. Taylor
    CIO/Director, Information Technology
    Fulton County, Ga.


    Hitting the Ground Running

    Before Robert Taylor joined Fulton County four years ago, there may as well have been a revolving door on the CIO's office. But Taylor -- the county's seventh CIO in seven years when he was hired -- stabilized the position and introduced an enterprise approach that's changing how Georgia's largest county uses technology.

    "I was the first professional IT director in the county," Taylor said. "The fact that I had that background and knowing what other organizations have done was helpful."

    He hit the ground running -- converting the county's eight e-mail platforms plus 1,200 ISP e-mail boxes into a single enterprise Exchange e-mail system; converting file storage from 65 departmental servers to a central file server; and standardizing all application servers on the Windows 2000 operating system.

    That sort of progress helped push Fulton County to a top 10 finish in the Center for Digital Government's 2004 Digital Counties Survey.

    About three years ago, a county commissioner asked Taylor how much money the county spent on IT -- a question many CIOs dread.

    "
  • I told him, 'I couldn't say. I can tell you what my budget is, and what comes across my plate,'" Taylor recalled. "At that point, I was charged by the board to look at recommendations and devise a plan to consolidate IT systems and services so the board would have a better idea."

    A centralized governance model helped the county succeed, Taylor said, especially in modernizing and consolidating IT systems -- and part of that centralization brought IT staff from various departments into Taylor's organization. The new approach also helped the county rationalize technology procurement.

    "We take every dollar we can, and we pinch it and use it like it was ours," he said. "We look for every way we can to partner with reliable and best-of-breed-type vendors out there. We get a better value, plus they provide more services, usually, and maybe even some staffing in here."

    -- Steve Towns, Editor


    Joe Trippi
    Campaign Manager
    Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign


    Reinventing Political Campaigning

    As national campaign manager for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, Joe Trippi became regarded as "the man who reinvented campaigning" after he used the Internet to organize what became the largest grassroots movement in presidential politics.

    He took a long-shot candidate with 432 known supporters and $100,000 in the bank, and created a groundswell of 640,000 supporters through decentralized online "organization." And in the process, Trippi helped the Dean campaign raise more money than any previous Democratic candidate -- more than $50 million -- mostly through online donations of $100 or less.

    For years, Internet enthusiasts talked about how the Net would change politics. But until Dean and Trippi came along, the main impact of information technology was to lower the cost of doing the same things campaign workers had always done. Computers organized mailings and tracked supporters. It was Trippi, however, who convinced Dean to put his faith in the self-organizing power of the Net. The result? Dean, for a time, became a serious contender for the Democratic nomination.

    Trippi's role in the Dean campaign, and his published account of this -- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything -- turned Trippi into something of a celebrity in his own right. To his credit, he sought to use his growing fame to urge political reform in both the Democratic Party and the American political process in general.

    And Trippi still maintains that the Internet is democracy's last chance. It is the one tool capable of reforming what he describes as "a corrupt political system that reduced politics to its basest elements.

    "There has never been a technology this fast, this expansive, with the ability to connect this many people from around the world," Trippi wrote in his book. "If Madison was right, and the people can only govern when they can 'arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives,' then the Internet is the first technology that truly gives people full access to knowledge -- and empowers them with the ability to do something with it."

    -- Blake Harris, Contributing Editor


    Chris Warner
    Founder
    Engaging and Empowering Citizenship (E2CI)


    Working From the Outside In

    After watching his mother Carolyn lose a tightly contested Arizona governor's race in 1986, Chris Warner decided to change government from the outside rather than from within.

    Since then, Warner's Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company, E2C Inc., has used Web technology to reinvent how governments deal with environmental information, and he's using the same concept to create nationwide information networks to help rescue abducted children and distribute emergency alerts.

    "I started this adventure with the na