Mark Badger, 45, is Alaska's chief technology officer and director of the Department of Administration's Information Technology Group. He has more than 25 years of experience as an educator, researcher and creator of technology-assisted information projects. He has also conducted IT projects in Siberia and other polar regions.

by / June 30, 1998
1. Is yours an appointed position, civil service, etc.?

Mine is an appointed position, and it's an evolving position at that. There currently is no formal CIO position within the state of Alaska. The commissioner of administration, who I work under, and I have developed a "co-CIO" approach, and it seems to work well. I am both the director of the Information Technology Group and the chief technology officer for the state. The "co-CIO" approach allows a policy/implementation overlap that works.

2. What training was most useful
to you in your current position?

Being a serious student of the growth in the management sub-discipline of IT management.

3. What are the biggest IT issues
currently facing your jurisdiction?

How to infuse state agencies and their information workers on the value of collaborative and integrated approaches to IT investment/infrastructure/concepts.

4. What IT program are you most proud of?

When we consolidated our data centers, we promised staff we would help transition legacy support professionals to the "online" government environment. It worked; DMV would not have been completed in the five or so months without the knowledgeable state worker. And, now we have a very special expertise -- a legacy specialist delivering in a state-of-the-art way.

5. What has been your most difficult challenge?

Helping to develop an "enterprise view" of IT management within state government. Bringing expert technical people, who have their first allegiance to their line of business, to see that there are areas we ought to create interoperability and prepare for citizen demands of the future.

6. How will IT change in five years?

Interoperability and integration will not be such a foreign or difficult accomplishment. Compres-sion or bandwidth maximization will open new venues or abilities within a "bandwidth deprived" state -- like Alaska. OneStop electronic services within government will be common.

7. What do you wish vendors would do or not do?

Vendors often miss the potential of partnering with state agencies; of using the deep legacy knowledge held by state information workers and coupling them with state-of-the-art or best practices in mentoring or knowledge-transfer projects. We www/IVR enabled Alaska's DMV in about six months; this would never have been possible with the private provider doing it on their own as an external service provider, or the state doing it on its own without the mentoring of software providers. Often, vendors think the state just will never have the wherewithal to do X, but, in fact, the state can out-perform those similar vendors.

8. When did you decide to enter
government, and what was the reason?

I became a member of this administration's team shortly after the governor was elected. The team he assembled and the enormous need Alaska has for network and technology-enabled government are important to most Alaskans. The time was right to do what could be done to make these ideas happen for our state.

9. How do you stay ahead of your e-mail?

E-mail is like a breeder-reactor, the more it is used the more it multiplies. So, it is hard to stay up with e-mail. I used to work on it at home, but it became overwhelming. I now come in before 7 a.m. and usually stay with it until it's finished, but the more you do the more they multiply. I get about 60 individually addressed notes per/day.

10. How do you use the Internet?
What sites are most useful to you?

The Internet replaces catalogues and product specs. Again, for Alaska, the problem of staying tied into latest releases was more of a BW (before Web) problem. Beyond search engines, I look for a successful corporation's [home page] to see how they communicate their product to themselves and to their workforce.

11. What are you currently reading?

The Intelligent Organization and Growing Up Digital.

12. What's your favorite quote?

"The longest distance you'll ever have to walk is the distance from your heart to your mind." (Hopi)

13. Who's the person you most admire?

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