A New Voice for Public-Sector IT

by / April 28, 2003

Recently I came across an interesting magazine article. It profiled a government IT executive who spoke of the need to cut spending overall while changing how IT was implemented and managed. He mentioned the many existing management and cultural problems, including the distrust that sometimes prevailed between agencies and the IT department.

The IT executive acknowledged his work required him to educate the legislature, which at the time was shocked to learn how much the state was spending on IT. To improve matters, he outlined his vision of using private-sector partners, centralizing some functions within his department, setting standards, and using his power to review and approve IT budgets for all agencies.

It's easy to believe these are the recent comments of a state CIO when, in fact, the remarks were made in 1989 by Larry Grant as he took the reins of Minnesota's top technology job. Government Technology magazine, which published the interview, said Grant was "typical of a new executive breed in state government -- the chief information officer."

At the time, the term CIO was relatively new in the public sector. In fact, the article also carried a sidebar mentioning that a small group of like-minded executives were going to meet later that month to discuss the possibility of forming an association.

Today, that organization is the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

The point is, despite the nearly 14 years since the article ran, despite all that has occurred with technology in the public sector, the men and women who guide IT policy, manage its direction and oversee its operation in the public sector still fight the same battles involving politics, funding, work force, culture and stovepipes, to name a few.

Only today the stakes are higher, and public-sector IT executives need, more than ever, clarity and vision on issues that affect them and their work.

Back in 1989, only a handful of public-sector computer programs were considered mission critical. Today the opposite is true. The Internet has had a tremendous impact on how government operates and now, as pressure rises to justify the spending of every tax dollar, the public sector is looking once again for new, better and more reliable ways to serve citizens more cost-effectively, including the use of intergovernmental solutions.

Since Grant was appointed one of the first government CIOs in 1989, public-sector executives have struggled to find the kind of information and thought leadership that address their unique world of fast-paced technology and public service.

Until now.

We have launched Public CIO to fill that void. This publication addresses the issues special to IT executives and professionals who work in the public sector at every level of government and education. Through well researched articles, thought leadership essays, interviews, profiles and commentary, we bring together the community that serves technology throughout the public sector.

For readers who enjoy articles on IT solutions specifically about state and local government, Government Technology, our flagship publication, will continue to bring the best in reporting and writing from this field.

For Public CIO's first issue we have some thought-provoking articles written by some of the best minds in the business, starting with Larry Singer, Bill Eggers and Paul Taylor, as well as from our own staff of professional writers and editors.

In coming months, we will bring more articles and essays that address your interests and concerns.But like any new publication, we are still evolving, still searching for ideas and voices.

Let us know what you think of Public CIO, and inform us about topics and issues you would like to see in this publication. You can send your ideas and comments to Tod Newcombe.

In the meantime, welcome to Public CIO

Tod Newcombe Senior Editor

With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology.