provide the tools for them to get there. We can't plan the technology without that information, and that's very difficult to come by, especially if you are an operating department that's largely reacting on a day-to-day basis. I think the environment in general works against that happening.

GT: How big an issue is job retention these days?

Di Paolo: Acquiring and retaining talent is exceptionally difficult in the government arena. Salaries tend to be lower, and we don't have stock options or profit-sharing plans. Generally, human resources (HR) is way behind in the government area as it relates to IT staffing.

I am blessed here with an HR department that does understand our problems in the HR area and has recommended to the city manager that our pay plan be radically modified, that we have signing-bonus capability, critical-skills bonuses, critical-project-team bonuses, waivers from normal hiring practices and a few other items. I am waiting on Mr. Terrell's response. If approved, the city would adopt a different pay plan for the information systems and services department.

September Table of Contents

Michael Di Paolo may have been selected to be information systems and services director for the city of Fort Worth, Texas, based on his skills and experience as a technology leader within local government, but according to his boss, Fort Worth City Manager Robert Terrell, what probably clinched it was when Di Paolo fixed Terrell's faulty PC during the job interview.

Di Paolo laughs about the incident, but to Terrell, the ability of his future IS director to swiftly resolve a nagging problem that had gone on for months epitomized the sort of action he was looking for in the person who was to lead his city's technology department. Since 1996, Di Paolo has not only kept the computers humming for the fast-growing city of Fort Worth, he has come to represent a new breed of technology leadership at the local level. Recognizing that information technology is as vital an infrastructure in today's cities as roads, bridges and utilities were 50 years ago, IT leaders such as Di Paolo are developing strategies that solidify technology's rightful role in both the day-to-day and long-term business of governance. For Di Paolo, that not only means buying good computer systems and successfully deploying them, but evangelizing to other departments the importance of technology as a shared infrastructure, and the importance of partnering within government, when necessary, to develop the best possible solution at the most affordable cost. Di Paolo began his career at Florida State University, worked for a while with the Florida Department of Labor, and eventually became information services director for the city of Fort Lauderdale before embarking on his new career in Texas. Most recently, Di Paolo's leadership qualities and vision were recognized when Public Technology Inc. (PTI) selected him as the new chairman of the Urban Consortium Telecommunications and Information Task Force. Di Paolo hopes to use his position on the task force to raise IT awareness among cities and counties, share information and launch research projects that can benefit local government. Just don't ask him to fix your computer; he's too busy right now.