a premium on inter-agency cooperation and dictates that new applications be completed in a matter of days rather than months -- has triggered several changes at ITS, which serves as a technology consultant and systems integrator for state agencies. Creating Hayes Project Office to maintain the portal and guide statewide common service initiatives, such as PKI and electronic forms processing, is part of the evolution. But the most significant development involved shifting ITS out of the Commerce Department and giving it cabinet-level status.

Hawley, who replaced long-time CIO Rick Webb in August, expects gaining a seat on the governors cabinet to foster tighter integration between technology and state agency business functions. "[It] lets us understand what agencies are trying to accomplish," he said. "And we can better explain to them how technology may be deployed to meet those needs."

A higher profile for ITS should also help the organization promote a set of technology standards that reach across multiple state agencies, said Carlisle. "For [e-government] to work the way we intend it to, we really cant operate out of silos, with each organization coming up with an independent solution. Its got to be enterprise-wide


Likewise, e-government is knocking down organizational barriers within ITS itself. "Historically, our shop ran as a stovepipe organization. You had a telecommunications group, you had a mainframe computer services group and you had an applications development group," said Hawley. "What weve grown to realize is these projects need to be much more fluid, and we have to come together as project teams that cut horizontally across all of those groups."

ITS addressed that need by creating the Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) to pull together staff resources needed for IT projects regardless of where they exist within the organization. These teams assemble for a particular project and disband when the work is completed.

Besides rounding-up internal staff expertise, EPMO helps coordinate multi-agency projects, which Hawley expects to become more common as organizations throughout the state scramble to put services online. "Youve had agencies come together for a specific solution in the past, but theres very much a new entrepreneurial spirit of partnering now,"

he said.

North Carolinas new online auto registration system offers a glimpse of what may become a common approach to IT projects as e-government takes hold. The project involved a three-way collaboration between ITS, the state Controllers Office and the Division of Motor Vehicles. While a team of DMV employees and consultants handled the actual registration application, ITS staff helped link the application to the portal, according to Hawley. The Controllers Office, which awarded a contract in July that gave state agencies the ability to accept credit cards, was responsible for the electronic payment portion of the service.

"The job is figuring the pieces of the puzzle that need to come together to make the clear picture," said Hawley.

Equal Access

Concurrent with the arrival of online services has been a growing effort within the state to ensure all citizens gain access to the Internet and the opportunities it promises. North Carolina is determined to close the economic gap between its rural and urban communities, according to the governor. "We know that we risk leaving our rural areas behind ... if we dont take active steps to level the playing field," said Hunt.

Like several southern states, North Carolina essentially has two economies. One is typified by Research Triangle Park, an area bounded by the states three major universities that boasts a red-hot technology job market, a pool of highly trained workers, ready access to venture capital and a well-developed IT infrastructure. But the states other economy includes some of the nations poorest regions -- areas like Appalachia that depend on tired agricultural and manufacturing industries, such as tobacco

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  | 

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.