For decades, penetrating California government for services was a tedious chore, but the Golden State has made a belated entrance into e-government world, and Rosario Marin is leading many of its critical projects.

Imagine trying to file a complaint about your employer while at work. Californians frequently took that risk before the State and Consumer Services Agency, of which Marin is secretary, implemented a 24-hour online appointment request tool. Previously citizens could only file complaints over the phone - often in a whisper - on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. "We have the technology now that gives people access to government at whatever time they want to do business with the state," she said.

Marin also used technology to improve state procurement and improve disaster recovery; she led an effort to slash the time it takes California state government to classify potential vendors as small businesses - a process that previously took months. "We went from months, to weeks to days to hours," Marin said. "Now, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to go through the process online."

As a result, 27.6 percent of state contracts came from small businesses in 2007, beating California's previously unreached goal of 25 percent small business procurement.

During the 2007 San Diego fires, Marin's staff created www.RebuildYourLife.ca.gov, a Web page distributing survival information to victims within 24 hours. "We had about 30 people in one room using their computers, knowledge and experience," she said. "It was amazing."

Now California, which could lose roughly 40 percent of its public work force to retirement in three years, plans to overhaul its hiring processes to make pursuing a state job easier.

Currently applicants must wait several months for a hiring window to open before they can even take an exam and be ranked for consideration. "It's archaic - years behind," Marin said. "It's not easy to want to be an employee of the state of California."

Marin is leading an effort to let applicants apply online for state positions, which she hopes will eliminate bureaucracy and accelerate the approval process. "We want the top people that we can attract," she said. "We want finding a job in the state to be convenient for you instead of being convenient for the people providing the tests or doing the classifications."

Andy Opsahl  |  Staff Writer