them so that the city had a unified, but distributed, GIS. What happened with [GIS and] the World Trade Center vindicated our efforts and pointed to the future -- that this was a continuing, valuable asset to enhance and to further develop."

-- Tod Newcombe, Features Editor

John Engler

Former Governor


After serving 12 years as governor of Michigan, John Engler stepped down this year. He created the Department of Information Technology, a Cabinet-level office that led state agencies in the coordinated development of new online government services and oversaw the state's award-winning government Web site.

Engler also established the e-Michigan Office as the centralized agency to lead all state agencies in e-government initiatives and policy development.

"Part of our success ultimately came from the fact that success itself begets more success," Engler said. "If you start a project and you have success, people see a process improving, a functionality growing, they say, 'That's what I want for my agency or my department.'"

His administration is perhaps best known for actively and aggressively jump-starting broadband deployment in the state.

The former governor signed a package of broadband bills into law last year that created a single statewide right-of-way authority, established a broadband finance authority to provide low-interest loans to expand broadband access and provided tax credits to telecommunications providers who invest in new broadband infrastructure.

Pushing technological change does have its impediments, Engler said, because any time the status quo is challenged, the case has to be made why the proposed change is worth making.

"Given the tough and difficult budget circumstances in virtually every state, the case for technology is quite compelling," he said. "I see the deployment of technology and the supporting of technology through high-speed Internet connections as one of the fundamentals in what a state must do in its own economic-development strategy."

Electronic government is in its relative infancy, he said, and the inherent potential of intergovernmental relationships will help change the relationship between all levels of government.

"We're at an important juncture in that relationship," he said, citing the new Department of Homeland Security is a possible driver of intergovernmental collaboration. "It's a very important time for the future of federalism because we will have to be able to make agreements, and Washington will have to count on the fact that we're going to live up to them."

-- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor

Charles Gerhards

Former Chief Information Officer

Former Deputy Secretary for Information Technology


Charles Gerhards became Pennsylvania's CIO in 1999, but was involved in the commonwealth's IT projects long before. His retirement in January ended 33 years of service with the commonwealth, and from the word go Gerhards was innovating with technology as technology was created.

As CIO, he helped fulfill the "single face of government" vision that drives Pennsylvania IT. In 1999, Gov. Tom Ridge "asked us to deploy portal technology because he wanted to push the strategy of a single face of government where constituents shouldn't need to know where to go for services; they should be able to go to a single source, and that source, through navigation, should be intuitive -- to point them where to get a service in a particular state agency," Gerhards said, adding that he oversaw the transformation from state Web site to e-government portal.

The state also opened a portal -- PA Open for Business -- for those who want to start a business in Pennsylvania. The portal allows applicants to fill out appropriate agency forms by using a wizard; they never need to walk into an agency or talk to anyone.