I use it as a means to do my job. I try to stay focused on the big picture, but also stay focused on the details. With most leadership models, youre required to pick one or the other. I think technology allows you to do both.
GT: Governments around the world have been talking about reform and reinvention for more than a decade. How does government need to change to better serve the citizen in the 21st century and how does technology tie into that?
Bush: It requires leadership, because change in a public setting is more difficult than in a competitive marketplace. The culture begins to emerge in government, that the government is the master rather than the servant. You dont have that luxury in a private, more competitive market.
Were the largest service enterprise in our state. We have a $51 billion budget, we employ 120,000 people, and the services we provide are extraordinarily important to a lot of people. The folks we serve are deserving of the kind of service they would get if they were shopping at Target or Wal-Mart, or making a long distance call with Sprint or AT&T, or if they go to a doctor. Theres an expectation of a level of quality [for] that service and price. With leadership you can begin the process of changing that culture to move toward that [goal]. And technology is critical; you cant provide better services without technology. Its the driver for change and better services.
GT: ATMs are error-free 99.999 percent of the time, yet election machine error rates were up to 5 percent across the country in the last election. Why are we still using 40-year old technology in our elections?
Bush: Were not. In Florida, were using 20-year old technology [laughs]. We had acceptance of 100-year old technology in most parts of the country, and Florida is one of the first states to eliminate the older technologies and have a baseline that is probably 20 years old, but allows for touchscreen technology. Many of the counties are going to move to that immediately. The standard now is an optical scanning device. It is not the most advanced thing in the world, but it works, and it lessens error rates.
GT: You formed a task force to modernize elections and the Legislature passed an election reform bill based on the task force recommendations. What role is technology going to play in fixing the problems from the last election?
Bush: The machines will eliminate a significant percentage of undervotes and overvotes, which was the principle problem. Since I was 18 years old, Ive always voted with the punch card. In Texas they had it, as well - I think it is important to lessen human error, while still recognizing that the voters have the ultimate responsibility for their voting decisions. But people do make mistakes, and if machines can allow you to correct that mistake, thats a good thing.
GT: With all the technological changes enabling personalization and customization of services, including learning, will technology start to change the terms of the education debate?
Bush: I hope so. Florida State University is investing significant dollars in its online capacity. We have this big bubble or bulge of kids going through the K-12 system who will make it out of high school and into higher education. And I think online education will expand capacity without having to build brick and mortar, which is very expensive.
We have a Florida Online High School that is one of the leaders in the country. We have over 10,000 students, and its growing pretty dramatically. That serves full-time students as well as students in the underserved areas. For example, in the