Government Technology's Top 25 honorees for 2003 succeeded during a year when innovating grew more difficult -- and yet more vital -- than ever before.

Throughout the nation, government jurisdictions coped with stagnant or declining budgets, often as sputtering local economies increased public agency workloads. The combination of forces put fierce cost-cutting pressure on government IT shops. Everyone may be tired of the phrase "do more with less," but that's certainly what IT professionals are being forced to do.

The news isn't all gloomy though. Those same pressures sparked genuine reform.

In this issue, we present 25 individuals who played pivotal roles in reshaping and advancing digital government. The list of doers, dreamers and drivers for 2003 includes state and local CIOs, lawmakers, chief executives, city managers, federal officials and others. In our view, they represent the "best of the best" in government IT.

Each year, we interact with tens of thousands of government IT professionals through this magazine, as well as Government Technology Conferences and our Center for Digital Government. As a result, the Top 25 is an eclectic group that shares a single trait: These individuals implemented innovative policies and technologies that strengthened government operations and citizen services.

In some instances, their efforts are producing fundamental change.

That's the case in Virginia, where Gov. Mark Warner and Technology Secretary George Newstrom lead a statewide IT centralization and consolidation campaign that may be the nation's largest.

Members of our Top 25 also worked to lower barriers to intergovernmental cooperation.

Cook County CIO Catherine Maras O'Leary assembled a central GIS application that not only serves multiple county agencies, but also multiple municipalities, such as Chicago, located within the jurisdiction.

New York's William Pelgrin, head of the state's Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination, created an informal clearing-house for states to share information about cyber-threats.

These officials -- and the others on the list -- epitomize the qualities we sought for this year's Top 25. Our selection process was guided by the following criteria.

  • Nominees needed to demonstrate e-government leadership that significantly changed the landscape of their jurisdiction.

  • Their efforts must have served as a model for other jurisdictions.

  • They had to be visionaries who embrace innovation.

  • Their work must have positively impacted government operations and served constituents of their jurisdictions.

  • Finally, they could not have been on our previous Top 25 lists. (Previous winners are online at Web site.)

    Ultimately we looked for courageous government leaders who used innovative technologies and policies to deliver real, meaningful results. We believe we found them in this year's group of doers, dreamers and drivers.

    Clarification

    The Point of View column in February's Government Technology implied that Arkansas was abandoning its AASIS system. That is not the case. The state will shut down the system's performance-based budgeting module. The rest of AASIS remains in operation.