Agency-level CIOs, who report to both their agency director and Valicenti, act as a management liaison between individual agencies and GOT. Valicenti expects the arrangement to smooth major IT implementations such as Kentuckys eventual adoption of Microsofts Office 2000 as its standard desktop PC operating system.

"Moving to Office 2000 across almost 30,000 workstations is a multimillion-dollar investment. Whats happened [in the past] is these projects have been addressed from a technical level and not from a management level," Valicenti said. "This is an investment that we need to talk about as a management team: When will we do it? How will we phase it in? Will all of our applications work with it?"

At the same time, Kentucky revamped its procurement mechanisms to shave months from the process of acquiring major IT systems. The commonwealth formed strategic alliances with five full-service technology vendors and 10 other firms specializing in various IT niches. The arrangement allows agencies to avoid the cumbersome request for proposal (RFP) process.

Under the new method, known as the Strategic Alliance for Services (SAS), agencies issue 30- to 40-page business statements to suppliers instead of RFPs that can stretch for hundreds of pages for major projects, Valicenti said. "We have been doing this for about 18 months now, and we have issued about 18 SAS requests. We could never have done that many RFPs."

Examples of SAS projects include complex initiatives to build a data warehouse and master tax index within Kentuckys Revenue Cabinet. Valicenti views the streamlined process as vital to the states drive to implement current technology.

"You need to remember that information technology products and services turn over at the rate of between six to nine months. So if youre going to do a traditional RFP, youre no longer going to get the latest state of the art," she said. "In fact, its going to take nine months to a year to evaluate a very long RFP. By then, the technology has changed."

A Better Way

Keeping pace with technology is a theme that runs throughout Kentuckys broad IT transition initiative because the state literally cannot afford to fall behind, said Valicenti. She contends that governments traditional approach to IT systems -- building multiple, single-agency applications that often perform similar functions -- is too slow and too expensive to survive in an age dominated by the Internet.

"I dont think the Legislature is ever going to give us enough money to support that, which means [the technology] will either be supported badly or it will be abandoned. So there needs to be a different way," she said. "In other words, for us to truly support the business of the state, were going to have to move faster. And the only way to move faster is to be more efficient at what we do."

For more information, e-mail Aldona Valicenti.

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  | 

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.