is in keeping up with issues of public safety, and the tragedies that occurred recently in Virginia and Maryland with the snipers again illustrate the necessity in this era of high communication and mobility to have an information system for our criminal justice system that is really linked," she said. "We cannot really combat what's out there unless we have a system that transfers information in a pretty transparent way between jurisdictions -- and that's both federal and state -- and between jurisdictional boundaries within the states, and that's my goal for our system."

-- Jim McKay, Justice Editor

Nick Dedier

Chief Information Officer

California Division of Criminal Justice Information Services

Under Nick Dedier, CIO of California's Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), California implemented the electronic collection and search for fingerprints in a statewide database.

"Now you can get background checks done on individuals in a matter of hours, where it used to take 30 to 45 days," Dedier said. "In addition, law enforcement has the capability when they arrest somebody to positively identify the individual before the individual is released from custody, and the potential is there to tie them to some other types of crimes."

Dedier and California overcame significant challenges in creating the database, such as obtaining funding for the project's statewide implementation and pushing for industry standards.

The next big hurdle Dedier sees is creating an integrated criminal justice system. "We have a number of disparate systems throughout the environment, and as they begin to migrate, [the challenge is] developing and listing standards to ensure we have an integrated approach so all agencies that currently own a piece of this data will share it in a collaborative environment."

Dedier also presided over implementation of the CAL-photo project, a collaborative effort between the state's Department of Justice and DMV that gave law enforcement immediate access to a cache of driver's license photos, which previously took hours or days to obtain.

Dedier was appointed director of the CJIS Division in March 1996. He was named CIO of the reorganized CJIS Division with expanded responsibilities, including centralization of IT services throughout the department, in March 2002.

-- Jim McKay, Justice Editor

Debra Bowen

Senator

California

Debra Bowen is a California state senator who has long understood what technology can do for government. In 1993, she authored the bill that put California's legislative information online and in 1995, wrote the California Digital Signature Act, the nation's first law allowing state agencies to use digital signatures and basic encryption procedures.

Bowen was the first member of California's Legislature with an e-mail address, something now considered absolutely essential, but she had to fight for it. Bowen, then a member of California's Assembly, needed special permission from the Assembly Rules Committee for her official state e-mail address and special permission to have it printed on the business cards of her staff members.

"For me, technology has always been a means to an end, not the end in and of itself," Bowen said. "There's no point in taking a file cabinet full of paper and putting it on a computer just because we have the technology to do it. There is, however, value in turning that file cabinet of paper into electrons if it's part of a larger business re-engineering process that makes government smarter, more efficient and above all, easy for people to deal with."

She also is actively fighting identity theft in California, and in 2003, introduced a bill that would require government agencies -- including public colleges and universities -- in California to stop using Social Security numbers as public identifiers as a way to prevent identity theft.