After joining the Information Technology Agency as an assistant general manager in July 2002, Thera Bradshaw was appointed general manager in September 2004, during a citywide 311 implementation.
Before coming to Los Angeles, Bradshaw worked for Mayor Willie Brown Jr. as executive director of San Francisco's Emergency Communications Department, and as the executive director of the Southwest Washington Regional Communications Agency in Vancouver, Wash.
Bradshaw is also on a panel of telecommunications experts creating a plan to extend wireless Internet access to every Los Angeles resident.
What's the biggest challenge facing the Information Technology Agency (ITA) as a whole and you as general manager in the upcoming year?
It's hard to separate the two. Given that we're mobile and global, it's just not good enough to keep data centers up and running. The primary challenge for me and for the ITA is helping elected leaders and other city leaders see what's possible -- then driving that vision of transformation in Los Angeles, where there's a large bureaucracy and culture that will require change.
How are you going about doing that?
Los Angeles is depending on ITA's leadership to develop a true citywide IT strategy rather than just at budget time and department by department. Today the ITA is customer-centric. We as an organization are focused on meeting the customer's business needs. There are no technology projects. There are technology solutions that meet our customers' business needs. I am reorganizing our personnel resources to be aligned to the customer.
The City Council directed the ITA to study a transition to open source platforms and software, which made a lot of headlines. How will you go about evaluating such a transition?
We've got a lot of savvy council members who are technically savvy as well. The council motion highlights and places focus on overall city policy that allows the ITA to work with all city departments to identify more opportunities where open source and other software alternatives could be advantageous.
There are two main areas where the ITA will be working with city departments -- evaluating office suites and databases.
You're four months into your six-month trial of a free wireless Internet access district in Van Nuys. What have you learned so far? What has surprised you after these four months?
We're starting to see some trends in terms of how people are using it. One surprising advocate of keeping this up and running after the pilot has been the news media. The court media reporters used the Wi-Fi service from the court building adjacent to the Marvin Braude center when they were covering the high-profile Robert Blake trial.
Is it government's role to implement this sort of thing? If it is, how does a government do that? Right now, we're just raising the policy questions and looking at what other communities and governments have done.