Governments in Illinois don’t have a sterling reputation. A litany of disgraced politicians has fueled the nation’s perception that public servants in Illinois are incompetent, stuck in their ways — or worse.

Greg Wass is trying to change that bad narrative by using new approaches to improve efficiency and change people’s lives. “I view technology as an enabler of better business processes,” he said.

That isn’t just lip service — Wass is college educated in economics and worked for several years in the private sector. His approach has resulted in a heavy dose of shared services and system modernization. As state CIO in 2007, Wass laid the foundation for a health and human services framework that’s moving several state agencies onto a service-oriented architecture. He also rescued and led the successful rollout two years ago of a new Web-based unemployment insurance system that went live ahead of a big election.

Wass went to Cook County in 2010 to alter another organization with antiquated technology, by replicating and improving on what he did for Illinois. Wass is planning a single time and attendance system and a new ERP for the county, and he sees great potential in cloud computing and a multi-tenant IT environment to drive further improvements.

And as he did in Illinois, Wass is helping the county put data online. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s administration sees technology as a tool to transform the county’s sad history of corruption. Without strong executive support, Wass said his successes wouldn’t have been possible.

Matt Williams Matt Williams  |  Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.