Fulton County, Ga., CIO Robert E. Taylor, One of Government Technology's 25 'Doers Dreamers and Drivers'

'We take every dollar we can, and we pinch it and use it like it was ours'

by / March 4, 2005
Before Robert Taylor joined Fulton County four years ago, there may as well have been a revolving door on the CIO's office. But Taylor -- the county's seventh CIO in seven years when he was hired -- stabilized the position and introduced an enterprise approach that's changing how Georgia's largest county uses technology.

"I was the first professional IT director in the county," Taylor said. "The fact that I had that background and knowing what other organizations have done was helpful."

He hit the ground running -- converting the county's eight e-mail platforms plus 1,200 ISP e-mail boxes into a single enterprise Exchange e-mail system; converting file storage from 65 departmental servers to a central file server; and standardizing all application servers on the Windows 2000 operating system.

That sort of progress helped push Fulton County to a top 10 finish in the Center for Digital Government's 2004 Digital Counties Survey.

About three years ago, a county commissioner asked Taylor how much money the county spent on IT -- a question many CIOs dread.

"I told him, 'I couldn't say. I can tell you what my budget is, and what comes across my plate,'" Taylor recalled. "At that point, I was charged by the board to look at recommendations and devise a plan to consolidate IT systems and services so the board would have a better idea."

A centralized governance model helped the county succeed, Taylor said, especially in modernizing and consolidating IT systems -- and part of that centralization brought IT staff from various departments into Taylor's organization. The new approach also helped the county rationalize technology procurement.

"We take every dollar we can, and we pinch it and use it like it was ours," he said. "We look for every way we can to partner with reliable and best-of-breed-type vendors out there. We get a better value, plus they provide more services, usually, and maybe even some staffing in here."

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