Karen Miller's favorite part about working in government is helping citizens navigate the bureaucracy. As county commissioner of Boone County, Mo., she has an opportunity to do just that for nearly 150,000 residents.
Miller sees technology as a great way to give citizens what they need. As liaison to the county's IT department, she works on the county's praiseworthy Web site, which provides much information and services, including meeting minutes, real estate data and maps, polling place locator, and the ability to pay taxes.
"It's just a very transparent tool," Miller said. "I think that's the message we should always strive for, to find something that helps our citizens know there's nothing being hidden anywhere, and that they can have access to their information."
The Web site saves time for many people - realtors, engineers, surveyors, appraisers, title company employees, bankers - who appreciate the depth of real estate information. "Before they buy a piece of property, they should always know what's around them, how it's zoned and its potential," Miller said. "We've been using technology to help them understand that."
Miller feels lucky to work with like-minded colleagues. Although she was one of the first county employees to promote investment in technology, once other county leaders saw the cost savings, they quickly joined the cause.
The county's interest in technology goes beyond the Web site, which is one reason it won a 2007 Digital Counties Survey award from the Center for Digital Government. Miller helped the county deploy GIS, and now all departments are connected to the same elaborate mapping system.
Since Miller came on board in 1993, the county's yearly technology budget has more than doubled; and many technologies are less expensive now than they were 15 years ago, so the county is getting great value for its IT dollars.