Turnover at the Top

The 2006 elections are past, but states will just now begin to feel the results.

by / March 1, 2007

In November, voters in 36 states decided who would take over the governor's office, and voters in 10 of those states chose between two non-incumbent candidates.

Unlike those held at the congressional level, the gubernatorial elections didn't usher in dramatic changes -- 25 of the 26 incumbents kept their offices, including some of the nation's most tech-savvy chief executives.

That's good news for CIOs in those states, since leadership changes often disrupt technology initiatives, displace top IT officials and shake up government IT shops. State CIOs have long lamented this fact, noting that it's hard to complete major technology initiatives and maintain continuity when priorities change every four years.

For the most part, the 2006 elections were kind to incumbent CIOs, who now get another go 'round to finish what they started. Here's a look at gubernatorial election results in some of the nation's most technologically advanced states.

  • Arizona -- Janet Napolitano, the incumbent, was victorious. State CIO Chris Cummiskey can now turn his attention to other things, such as maintaining Arizona's consistent performance in the Digital States Survey. Arizona placed fifth in the 2004, and fifth again in the 2006 survey.

    The state's priorities for 2006 to 2008 are creating a health-care road map to guide deployment of practice management systems, electronic medical records, online licensing of practitioners and telemedicine; extending the use of 211; and encouraging further public-private partnerships in development of modern statewide health information infrastructure, according to the Center for Digital Government.

  • Georgia -- Sonny Perdue, the incumbent, remains in office. Thomas Wade, state CIO and director of the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), will continue managing the Wireless Communities Georgia program.

    Perdue set the unique program in motion in mid-2006 to help local communities establish wireless broadband networks. Perdue earmarked $4 million in state funds for the program, and GTA officials, after judging 17 applications, expanded the number of winners from three to six.

  • Maryland -- Martin O'Malley, the challenger, upset incumbent Gov. Bob Ehrlich. State CIO Ellis Kitchen may be looking for a new job shortly. O'Malley, former mayor of Baltimore, made IT a big part of his administration as mayor. It's a good bet he'll make technology a big part of the governor's office, too.

    O'Malley brought CitiStat -- an offshoot of CompStat, the crime-mapping application that helped the New York City Police Department reinvent its approach to law enforcement -- to Baltimore as a way to hold city managers directly accountable for their agencies' performance.

  • Michigan -- Jennifer Granholm, the incumbent, won easily. CIO Teri Takai will turn her attention to numerous technology priorities for a state that won back-to-back Digital State awards in 2004 and 2006.

    Michigan's priorities from 2006 to 2008 include rolling out a crash-information system to serve 700 agencies and that is projected to save more than $4 million in three years, according to the Center for Digital Government. In addition, the state will focus on payment and project-management enhancements to an existing Department of Transportation contractor-performance tracking system that already saves Michigan $22 million per year.

  • Minnesota -- Tim Pawlenty, the incumbent, squeaked by his challenger in a tight race. Pawlenty retained the governor's office by capturing 46.9 percent of the vote, while his challenger won 45.7 percent.

    State CIO Gopal Khanna can focus on another four years to help Pawlenty carry out his "Drive to Excellence" initiative to transform the way state government does business. Pawlenty has stressed taking an enterprise approach to state government and how the state serves constituents, and IT is a big part of the Drive to Excellence.

  • Tennessee -- Phil Bredesen, the incumbent, won in a landslide. State CIO Bill Ezell, who will retire in August 2007, still has much work to do.

  • Tennessee placed second in the Center for Digital Government's 2005 Best of the Web contest. The state's priorities for 2006 to 2008, according to the Center for Digital Government, include a phased enterprise resource planning (ERP) modernization initiative, which will replace more than 40 formerly discrete systems, and which is expected to be completed by 2008. Also, Tennessee is working on a statewide automated court case information system to reduce paperwork and improve timeliness in the court system.

  • Wisconsin -- Jim Doyle, the incumbent, won re-election, but the state still faces a change in top IT management. CIO Matt Miszewski resigned in February.

    The state's priorities for 2006 to 2008 are ERP modernization to replace 59 existing financial management systems and 38 existing human resources systems, according to the Center for Digital Government. The state Division of Enterprise Technology also intends to automate and improve nearly 100 business processes with an eye toward harvesting business intelligence to make data-driven decisions.

  • Ohio -- Ted Strickland, a challenger, won in a race with no incumbent running. State CIO Mary Carroll retired in January, after guiding Ohio to a third-place finish in the 2006 Digital States Survey.

    According to the Center for Digital Government, Ohio's priorities for 2006 to 2008 are developing a statewide intelligent transportation system, including interactive mapping for advanced way-finding tools. In addition, the state will embark on an ERP implementation, slated to start in December 2006, to support advanced knowledge or business intelligence features in the biennium ahead.

  • New York -- Eliot Spitzer, the state's former attorney general, won a race with no incumbent running.

    New York jumped considerably in the 2006 Digital States Survey rankings -- moving from beyond the top 25 in 2004 to 18th in 2006. Hard work went into the state's ascent in the survey rankings, and the question now becomes how New York will approach IT strategy under the new administration. Spitzer is no stranger to technology. While delivering the keynote speech at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City in early 2006, he summarized a proposal to provide affordable broadband to all New York citizens.

    Spitzer made a potentially interesting move shortly after the election, naming Paul Francis as his budget director in December. Francis is former CFO for Priceline.com, which helped pioneer the online travel industry.
    Shane Peterson Associate Editor