-- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor
Gary Locke's first term as Washington's governor began in 1996; in 2000, voters elected him to his second term. During his time as CEO of the state, Washington has won Government Technology's Digital State award three times in a row.
The state is committed to electronic government, Locke said, despite the economic downturn that threatens many state budgets.
"You have to spend the dollars at some point; that means during difficult financial times, you have to stretch your spending out or slow it down," he said. "But you can't just stop it. If you are always waiting for a better time, it will never happen."
Locke said Washington's success at developing and implementing technology comes from the state adopting sophisticated, long-range, detailed technology plans.
"Even when budgets get tight, we still take the right steps in the right sequence -- but we may take them at a slower pace," he said. "We want to continue the build-out of digital Washington as a prudent, long-term investment."
The biggest technology challenge facing state government is making sure that tomorrow's legacy systems aren't being built today, Locke said, and managing the build-out of state government infrastructure through the coordinated efforts of many entities in government.
All governments face impediments to bringing about technological change, though Locke said such impediments often have little to do with actual technology.
"Our biggest challenge is creating a culture that embraces change," he said. "It is difficult to overlay a new technology onto an existing business process because that existing process supports a way of doing business that will become obsolete with the new technology. We must think through our business goals and existing processes and develop ways to achieve our objectives using new processes and new technology."
-- Shane Peterson, Associate Editor
Chief Information Officer
CIO Greg Jackson is a force in Ohio's push toward business-to-business Web transactions. The state already is touting its Ohio Business Gateway as a success. The initiative lets small to medium-size businesses file multiple tax returns from a single Web site. Businesses can file taxes with three different agencies through the one Web site and pay electronically without dealing with agencies independently.
"It's really a significant move toward a more customer-friendly relationship," Jackson said. "We're starting to get agencies to recognize that they have common customers and to start treating them as such instead of dealing with them as individual silos."
As elsewhere, Ohio is battling budget shortfalls, but Jackson sees the budget situation as an opportunity to encourage the development of the state as an enterprise, instead of a collection of individual agencies.
"I'm starting to have discussions with the agencies now about doing more collaborative efforts in building solutions and pooling our funds together," Jackson said. "The budget is always the biggest challenge -- trying to continue our services with less funding. At the same time, it presents a significant opportunity for us to start thinking of the state in terms of the enterprise."
Jackson joined the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) in January 2000 as the agency's assistant director and the state's CIO. As assistant director, he oversees the DAS Computer Services Division, which provides statewide technology infrastructure and acquisitions management. Ohio spends approximately $800 million annually on IT and employs more than 2,000 IT professionals.
Jim McKay, Justice Editor
North Carolina Rural Internet Access Authority
Jane Patterson continues influencing government IT by serving as executive director of the Rural Internet Access Authority, the