Countdown to a New Governor

When Washington Gov. Mike Lowry announced he would not seek another term, the state's Department of Information Services began preparing for the political transition.

by / July 31, 1996
February 23
Gov. Mike Lowry announced at a press conference today he will not seek a second term, citing family matters and a wish to lead a more private life. The governor would not consider himself a technical person (he doesn't have a personal computer on his desk) but he has always championed technology when it improved service delivery, reduced the cost of government and made government work better. What does his departure mean to DIS?

March 12
At the Executive Team (E-Team) meeting this morning Steve insisted we think creatively about using the next seven months to position DIS for the transition. This is a rare opportunity. DIS has the luxury of time to identify the pieces of the DIS transition puzzle -- maybe even fit them together.

When the governor took office he vowed to fix the problems he found in state computing. We're committed to making sure computers aren't a problem for the new governor. But we've got some dicey projects out there.

Our mission -- which we've chosen to accept -- is clear. The transition team will turn its attention to the real issues and problems. We also want to help the new governor get off to a fast start.

In addition to everyday responsibilities, we'll take on four technology action items geared to the transition:

First, we'll create a campaign to map out how DIS presents itself to the new administration. No traditional briefing book -- we'll tell the story with the multimedia tools of our trade. Marilyn and the Communications Office take the lead in developing a communications strategy.
Second, we'll bolster our support of the Information Services Board (ISB), in terms of how it functions and what it does. Clare, Susan and Todd form an ISB workgroup to provide recommendations.
Third, we're going to articulate a new business model for government that helps agencies use technology to govern, operate and satisfy public access needs. We'll explain the concept to our partners, the program agencies. Steve, Mike and John oversee the Business Model Work Group.
Finally, we need to kick off an Internet and intranet architecture to access and distribute enterprise-wide applications. DIS needs to take the point on applying browser technology. This will enhance DIS' research and development role. Mike leads, relying on the existing client/server technical team to initiate an Internet/intranet project.
After the September 17 primary, we need to really get to know the candidates -- check out their past records and level of interest in technology. Once the transition team moves in, we need to be ready to provide immediate computing and telecommunications support.

March 18
At his Executive Cabinet meeting today, Gov. Lowry requested that each agency bring a list of accomplishments that his or her organization achieved during the last three years. Our presentation included:

Provided citizens access to government with the WIN kiosk network (it's placed 643 jobs and returned more than $100,000 in unclaimed property)
Home Page Washington gets 1,000 visits a day
Reduced computing and telecommunication rates for an overall savings of more than $21 million over three years
Supported teleconferencing
Responded within 24 hours with disaster relief during major floods
Established the government backbone telecommunications network
Developed the state's Strategic Information Technology Plan.
(Need to remember to highlight these things to the transition team....)

March 30
(More things to highlight to the new governor...)

The Legislature affirmed that DIS is a valuable part of state government by removing DIS' June 30, 1996 sunset date and reauthorizing it without further condition.

Second, Gov. Lowry signed Senate Bill 6705, which appropriated $42 million to create a K-20 Educational Telecommunications Network. The Legislature decided to have DIS oversee the creation of the network and to disburse the funds.

Third, the governor was the first in the nation to "digitally sign" a law authorizing the use of digital signatures in electronic transactions. In his press release, the governor specifically
called for DIS to work with the Secretary of State's office to identify areas where digital signatures can also be used to increase the efficiency of state government.

April 22
The second edition of the DIS Video Magazine premiered today. The fast-paced magazine show featured a "Report Card" of high marks related to DIS' "New Directions" document.

(Remember to stress to the transition team that we do what we say we're going to do.)

April 30
Phase One of the DIS Communications Plan is complete. Work is under way to develop a DIS "Communications Toolkit," including traditional print, video, online and CD-ROM materials. Plans are also under way for a DIS-sponsored "signature" technology event, speaker series and speaker's bureau -- all designed to increase awareness of the positive things we are doing. Good communications is essential.

May 14
We're off to the Government Technology Conference in Sacramento. Maybe we can get more good ideas.


Executive Team
Steve Kolodney, Director

Clare Donahue, Deputy Director

John Anderson, Telecommunications

Marilyn Freeman, Communications/Video

Susan Hettinger, Project Oversight

Mike McVicker, Computer Services

Todd Sander, Strategic Computing

Sam Hunt, Legislative Liaison

Ed. Note: Political transitions are an inevitable fact of life in government. As elected officials arrive and depart, ideas can change dramatically, agendas can move from one end of the political spectrum to another, and programs -- both good and bad -- can be swept away in the political tides. This can obviously create uncertainty and concern among appointed and career staff, and can threaten long-term planning and programs.

When Washington Gov. Mike Lowry announced he would not run for another term, the Washington State Department of Information Services (DIS) began gearing up for the coming political transition. How will IT programs fare? Government Technology will catch up with DIS staff from time-to-time over the next few months to see how they are doing.