By Andrew Noel
Jules Maderos has been an information technology and management information systems professional for several years, serving as Atlantas CIO since May 1999. A Harvard Business School graduate, Maderos also served in the Navy as a Naval flight officer.
Herbert McCall is commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services in Atlanta. As commissioner, he is responsible for information technology, procurement and real estate, facilities and building services. He was appointed by Mayor Bill Campbell in 1994.
Q: Which IT projects are enjoying success in Atlanta right now?
Herb McCall: We always have to first mention the Mayors Community Technology Initiative and the Cybercenters. This is able to get funding for one of the franchise agreements to try to set up one of the satellite community technology centers where we could deliver the technology and trainers for young people, senior citizens -- all those whove traditionally not had access to technology -- to come in and receive training, to use the Web [and] to receive information through technology. Right now, people are able to pay their traffic tickets online. We are able to access our procurement process to find out whats up for bid. You are able to find information on doing business with the city so that you dont have to come down to city hall to find out what all our steps are. If you want to find out what is on the city council agenda, you can access the Web, but not just get the basic information, you actually see the ordinances, the legislation and the resolutions online. In addition, you are able to get the results of the meetings, minutes and so forth. These things are in place now. Within the next five to six months, we want to show council meetings online and do video streaming.
Q: What has been the most difficult challenge for the CIO in Atlanta?
Jules Maderos: We have a much more technically educated set of users now than five or 10 years ago. What gets to be difficult at times is to explain the budgeting requirements to make all this stuff work and work transparently. So, basically youre doing an education job all the way through and trying to help the users get their business done. Its a challenge and an opportunity at the same time.
Q: How do you see IT changing in Atlanta over the next two years?
Herb McCall: You are going to see more e-commerce, or what we call e-community kinds of functions. It is built here upon the Community Technology Initiative. It doesnt do John and Jane Q. Citizen any good for us to have all this content on our Web site if they dont have the means to access it. In addition to what were doing now, we want to try to remove as much of the movement of a person [as possible]. They can come to City Hall to interact with someone if they choose to [or if they want to] conduct business from their office or their home with city government, they can do that.
Q: How is the role of the CIO in state and local government changing?
Jules Maderos: Its a lot more fun now. In the old days, we had to be super technologists. Now the focus is different. Back then there wasnt much in the way of applications or technology out there. Today were surrounded by it. Its a commodity item. Were over-run with all these goodies that we can buy and implement. So, the CIO really has to change focus. We need to make the technologist more customer friendly and customer oriented. We have two kinds of customers: We have external, which are the taxpayers and the boss, and we have internal, which are the departmental users. The CIO has to be more of a businessman, a tax commissionor, a planner, a payroll person, a finance person -- wear different hats than a straight technologist did maybe 10 years ago. You have to get inside the users life. You have to walk in their shoes for a while before you write the right prescription.
Q: What characteristics will make state and local government CIOs most successful as government moves forward in the Internet economy?
Jules Maderos: Patience. And you have to be more into team building. You have to be more into mentoring. You have to be more into learning about your users environment. You have to be able to rap with the CFO and understand his world. Youve got to be able to communicate with the payroll people and the sanitation people. Youve got to get closer to your users before you can help them effectively. Ultimately, when you install a package, you need the user involved up front. Forget the technology; forget it was a mainframe, a client/server, a widget or a black box. What does the business need? Basically the role of the CIO has changed from that of a super techie to a businessperson who understands all the technology and can walk both sides of that street.