Steve Fletcher is CIO of Utah, which ranked first in the Center for Digital Government's 2008 Digital States survey. Utah recently closed most state offices on Fridays to save energy. The move was possible because more than 800 state government services are available online.
What's the impact of moving to a four-day workweek?
A: We expect to save more than $3 million a year on energy costs because we are closing down the offices. Also, employees - who will work four 10-hour days - will not spend the cost of a commute on Friday. It will save gas costs, as well as bus or train fare to get to and from work.
Will this move help state government attract qualified IT workers?
A: We have to compete in the employment market with private firms. We obviously need some of the same skills, and we have to aggressively go after them. This, for us, is a great recruiting tool because most programmers and developers work 10- hour days anyway. Working four 10-hour days is not a big deal, and getting a three-day weekend every week is a great incentive. We look at this as a great opportunity to attract skilled people.
How else are you using the state's digital infrastructure?
A: We are putting all of our social services eligibility programs into one system and all of our eligibility workers into one organization. We are giving them a rule-based system for eligibility determination. These workers can be located anywhere in the state. They just need to access these programs online. They can work at home.
Why is that important?
A: Eligibility workers' jobs are relatively low paying for areas like Salt Lake City. But if you take them to some rural areas, $14 an hour is pretty good. So this is a great economic development piece for the rural parts of the state. We probably have 800 eligibility workers; 300 of them are now working online. As we roll this program out, they can be located anywhere in the state.