Gary Locke was elected to his first term as Washingtons governor in Nov. 1996. Four years later, the states voters elected him to his second term. During his time at the helm, the state has won Government Technologys Digital State award three times in a row. The first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history, Locke began his political career in 1982 when he was elected to Washingtons House of Representatives.
Q: YOUVE SPENT NEARLY 20 YEARS INVOLVED IN POLICYMAKING AT THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVELS. DURING THAT TIME, HOW MUCH HAVE YOU SEEN TECHNOLOGY CHANGE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ELECTED OFFICIAL?
LOCKE: When I first came to the Legislature, our assistants, secretaries and aides didnt even have self-correcting typewriters. Of course, weve moved way beyond that to everybody being computerized. Now, members of the House of Representatives have laptops in front of them on the floor of the House. Weve moved from using volumes and volumes of paper that legislators referred to when looking up legislation to having that information instantly in front of them.
When we wrote budgets, we used calculators. Now, our budget analysts are able to run a whole bunch of scenarios and variations with the click of a mouse.
Q: HAS TECHNOLOGY CREATED NEW PRESSURES FOR POLITICIANS?
LOCKE: I dont know that technology has created more pressures; its certainly enabled those in public policy and in government to respond much more quickly to their constituents as well as made government more accessible and understandable to the citizens. When I first became a county executive, I was intent on [using] technology to speed up and simplify our purchasing processes, to streamline county government -- county revenues were constantly shrinking as more cities came into being and, yet, our obligations were growing.
Ive always believed that technology was important as a tool for not only making government more accessible and user friendly for our citizens, but also to streamline government and to free up dollars that we need for police, jails, prisons and parks.
Q: YOUVE ARGUED FOR STATE/REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS TO DEAL WITH TRANSPORTATION ISSUES, FOR EXAMPLE. DO YOU SEE SUCH PARTNERSHIPS HELPING TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT REGIONS ACROSS THE STATE?
LOCKE: When people want to interact with government, they dont know all the different divisions, forms and layers. They dont know that something is the responsibility of a city, county or state, [or] hybrid forms of government.
Through the use of technology, when citizens access our Web site, there ought to be links and search engines that will enable them to hook up with whatever government they need. They want a simple permit; they dont know who they have to go to.
Thats the type of collaboration and partnerships that we can have with local governments, other states and even the federal government, so that the interactions between a government and a citizen are much more simplified.
Q: HOW FAR AWAY IS THE DAY WHEN A PERSON CAN GO TO ONE WEB SITE TO TAKE CARE OF ANY TYPE OF TRANSACTION, WHETHER ITS WITH A CITY, COUNTY OR STATE?
LOCKE: Were working on that right now in Washington. In fact, this week [the week of April 26] there is a meeting of the states association of counties and cities. On the agenda is the goal of building this kind of "virtual front door" to transactional services from every level of government in Washington.
A first step to achieving this is to have a strong, comprehensive search engine on a state Internet portal. Our new Ask George search tool ... provides exactly that element. Our proposal is to program the search engine to find city and