For more than two years, Lawrence Bates has been the IT director of Manassas, Va. In that position, he said he most enjoys the team he works with -- his IT Department, the City Council, the mayor and the city manager. "It's a team environment and everybody does work together to accomplish an end," he said, and that "end" is offering better services, providing good customer service to city staff and responding to citizen requests.
What do you see as challenges at the local level?
Doing more with less, especially in today's economy. We are limited by budget dollars with the services we can offer. It's tough to allow staff time to envision and carry out a creative solution when they are burdened with multiple tasks. Investment in e-government services by small jurisdictions may not provide the best return based on a per-citizen cost.
Are you working on any intergovernmental IT projects?
I participate in a Washington, D.C., Regional Council of Governments group known as MetroCIO. This brings together CIOs of the local governments to share ideas and pool resources for the common good.
I recently completed a project with our county government -- Prince William County -- to join the city and county LANs. This enabled data sharing between common interest groups. Our first application was to assist the police departments of our respective jurisdictions quickly, share tips, photos and lookout information that might be of use in solving crimes. We are planning to expand to other mutual groups in the future.
What has been your biggest challenge as IT director thus far?
Providing citizen service and IT service for a city -- to keep the service functioning, to keep them in contact through e-mail. We made a major change in October with our city Web site and its redesign.
We're working to make sure we have resilient services for IT that can function should we suffer a partial loss of any of our network on the city side -- that we can function through another building or through a recovery process smoothly.
What would you want your colleagues to say about you?
That I can translate the technical jargon to a level that can be understood by the audience. I deliver customer service in a timely manner. I'm technically knowledgeable, am able to cut to the chase and solve the problem. That I deliver what I commit to.