Simone Marstiller, appointed CIO of Florida in May 2004, doesn't hide that she's not an "uber geek," believing she's part of a trend toward state CIOs without hardcore technology backgrounds.

"The greatest thing about this job is that I work for a man who believes passionately that we -- government -- can do better," Marstiller said. "It's inspiring, and bringing the state closer to achieving the governor's vision is my one and only goal."

Her political and managerial skills were tested immediately in the CIO post. Marstiller got the job after the previous CIO resigned and the Florida Auditor General issued a report saying the State Technology Office mismanaged large outsourcing contracts. Marstiller quickly cancelled the contracts, worth $170 million, and put them out for rebid.

Now, however, Florida is deploying an ERP system and improving its accounting and cash-management subsystems. Over the next 18 to 24 months, Florida also will transition to MyFloridaNet, a statewide, multipurpose communications network that will support enterprise applications and government business processes across state agencies.

Perhaps the most significant impediments to IT reform in government are history and reluctance to change, Marstiller said. "The entities comprising the government enterprise have long operated independently of one another, and the, 'We've always done it this way' attitude is pervasive," she said. "It's a challenge to get them to broaden their perspective and be more enterprise-centric. Some might argue that the legislative process also impedes progress and reform. To overcome these challenges, you must have a solid business case for whatever you're proposing, and demonstrate value to the individual agency, the enterprise and the citizen."

Marstiller is most proud of Florida's work in law enforcement communications. "We've put Florida in a position to become the first state in the nation to have a statewide seamless, fully interoperable law enforcement and first responder radio network," she said. "All five phases of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System became operational in April 2004. This digital system serves more than 6,500 users with 14,000 radios in patrol cars, boats, motorcycles and aircraft -- wherever they are in the state."

Congratulations to this year's group of "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers," who appear in the March issue of Government Technology magazine.

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor