The government of Ontario County, located in New York's Finger Lakes district, serves a modest-sized population: just over 100,000. It's not the place you would think innovative ideas around IT and government would blossom. But that's just what's been happening as the county's CIO Ed Hemminger has been a longtime leader in using technology, not just for improving county services, but also for economic development.

Last week, New York recognized Hemminger's unique leadership by naming him State Public Sector CIO of the Year. The annual award recognizes CIOs who show exemplary leadership, strategic vision, innovation and collaboration.

In announcing the award, New York state's CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart cited Hemminger's ability to collaborate with different players in the public sector. "Ed has extended the role of the CIO," she said. "He has been instrumental in building closer ties between the state and local government IT communities, helping New York function more efficiently."

Besides pushing for greater state and local government collaboration for IT, Hemminger has become a leading advocate for using IT to foster economic development in the Finger Lakes region. He has partnered with the county's department of economic development to bring a high-capacity fiber-optic ring to Ontario County.

Hemminger believes a government CIO needs to take a broad view of how IT can serve a jurisdiction's needs. He makes the point that today all businesses are, in one form or another, technology companies. For that reason he felt it necessary that the county's CIO have a say in how Ontario County develops infrastructure to support the new economy.

"It's up to CIOs to take the initiative and get involved," he told Public CIO earlier this year. "When you see economic development start to thrive, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling because you know you are starting to really make a difference in the big-picture stuff, and that is a fun thing to do."

Hemminger received his award on April 10 during the third CIO Academy program held annually in Albany, N.Y. The CIO Academy is produced by Government Technology Executive Events, in collaboration with the state of New York's Office for Technology.

Tod Newcombe, Editor  |  Editor, Public CIO