overwhelming job that involves having to deal with a constant flow of information. The technology enables you to manage that information in a timely manner and in a way that you are able to make more decisions, make them faster and make them based on better data.
To somebody whose job it is to make decisions, that's what you have to always be seeking -- better data in a more timely way and a better way to make your decision. I think that's the answer. If you stop to think about it, the job of a governor is to decide -- how much are we going to put in the budget for education? What are we going to do about the escapes at the main detention center? Or what do we do in terms of improving our environmental permitting processes? All of those decisions need to be based on some kind of information. The technology allows you to access the information faster.
Also, I'm talking to you on a car phone. Five years ago I'm not sure the governor had a car phone. I can't imagine not having a car phone. That's a communication technology. I wear a beeper so that I'm in touch and can be contacted at any time.
Within the computer field there are the applications, the decision-making programs, the spreadsheets and those kinds of things that help us to analyze data.
I view it as a competitive necessity. Maine is competing with the rest of the country for jobs and for economic development and we're going to be on the front edge of that competition. And technology is one of the ways to do it.
GT: How does improving and increasing the use of technology in state government affect the residents of the state?
King: I think in two principle ways: one is more efficient production for them of whatever it is the state is doing. Whether it's the issuance of a driver's license, a permit or welfare benefits, you can get things quicker, more accurately and it's just better customer service.
The other way is saving money. We're going through a unique governmental downsizing project where we're cutting $45 million out of our personnel and general fund budget by increasing productivity. The program is called the Productivity Realization Task Force, and we're looking at each agency and saying 'how can we deliver better services to the public at a lower cost?'
Quite often, part of the secret of that is technology. The customer, or the taxpayer, gets a break in terms of getting their information or whatever it is they want faster and easier with less hassle, and at the same time pay less in taxes for it.
I hope what's going to happen is that people will notice it doesn't take so long to get permits done, or get applications, driver's licenses or hunting licenses back.
You have to understand a little of my background. I had never used a computer before I was 45 years old. Then I started my own business from scratch and I couldn't afford clerical help, so I bought a Macintosh -- and it changed my life. I taught myself to do spreadsheets, correspondence, business cards, graphics, you name it. And I became a real believer in the power of this technology.
I think part of the reason I have
been able to push technology so far and so fast in state government is because it's something that I do and that I am interested in. I have been getting MacWorld magazine for years, and for fun I read about what's out and what's going on out there.
GT: I understand Maine has a well-regarded home page on the World Wide Web. Tell us a little bit about it.