When Suzanne Peck became the District of Columbia's Chief Technology Officer in 1998, communications systems were outdated, agencies were technologically isolated and no Y2K rollover plan existed.
Organizing a team to face those challenges was a challenge in itself. "We were considered to be such an awful place that you could not recruit anyone -- any IT professional -- to work for the District of Columbia," Peck said. "I went to my own network of former colleagues [in the private sector] and said to them in 1998, 'Your nation needs you.'"
Now she leads a team of 100, and of most extraordinary caliber, Peck said. "We have zip turnover, literally, in four years."
Since Peck became CTO, the district installed a common e-mail system, created a CIO certification program to ensure quality technological leadership in its agencies and expanded its Web site to more than 100,000 pages. The DMV's 30-year-old information system was replaced with one that tracks unpaid child support, prior tickets and bad checks, as well as offers DMV services online. Peck and her team consolidated nine data centers into two, which saves the district $1.2 million per year. Since the two remaining centers contain mirrored information, the data can be recovered quickly should a disaster occur.
The Office of the Chief Technology Officer continues to improve the city's communication systems. One emergency preparedness project is a unified communications center -- slated for completion in February 2004 -- comprising 911 and 311 services, emergency management, the mayor's command center and a regional incident command center. The district also is installing a city-owned fiber-optic system called DC-NET, which will provide both landline and wireless voice communications, and save the city one-third of its local telecom and public safety communications costs.
When Peck arrived in the district, she said there was "no basic business process in the city that worked, and none of them had good systematic support. Our goal and our legacy is that when we leave, all basic business processes in the city will work, and they will have good systematic support."
Peck said she lends her vision to the nation's capital with honor. "It is truly an extraordinary honor, and my whole team considers it an extraordinary honor, to serve the capital of the free world."
-- Emily Montandon, Copy Editor
Secretary of State
Georgia was first state in the nation to completely overhaul its voting equipment, and did so for accuracy's sake. In the 2000 presidential election, the state lost about 94,000 votes -- a loss proportionally worse than Florida's.
"That was over 3.5 percent of our total votes in 2000," said Secretary of State Cathy Cox, whose initiative made possible the deployment of the modern, uniform electronic voting system in every county. "With replacing all our old voting equipment, our under-vote rate dropped to about 0.9 percent. Tens of thousands of votes are no longer lost."
Cox was re-elected for a second term in 2002, earning more than 61 percent of the vote. She is the first woman to serve as Georgia's Secretary of State.
Last fall, the state's 3,000 precincts used electronic touchscreen voting units -- also a first in the nation. "It was a huge project -- $54 million for the equipment, $4.5 million in voter education efforts," Cox said. "We bought about 20,000 touchscreen units, and Kennesaw [State University] helped us do all the acceptance testing, put the machines through our state certification process, and helped us do training for local election officials and over 10,000 poll workers."
Cox said the project is her biggest accomplishment. "But maybe even more so was working with voters all over the state and preparing them for the election and having them love it," she added. "They're so proud Georgia has finally done something first that's positive, that we