This is an excerpt from the 2006 "Government Technology's 25 Doers Dreamers & Drivers" an annual tribute to those individuals who are redefining and advancing technology's role in government and society.

"In the public or private sector, the opportunity and challenge of making a positive difference is what I enjoy. In this decade, Virginia offers both," said Lem Stewart, Virginia's CIO since 2004. Stewart leads the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), and as senior executive, oversees all aspects of IT for the state government.

In just over a year, Stewart improved governance of IT investments in Virginia, and engineered the successful transition of staff and resources from 90 agencies into one organization. His IT Transformation initiative streamlined the government's IT infrastructure, ensuring smooth delivery of services to citizens. Stewart's triumphs have also been cost-effective and applauded outside his jurisdiction.

"Our most promising achievement has been the development and award of our public/private partnership with Northrop Grumman," he said. "It will transform 1980s technology infrastructure for the 21st century without additional taxpayer dollars, and with substantial economic development impact in rural areas of Virginia."

This 10-year, $2 billion partnership brought more than 1,000 new high-tech jobs to the state and $269.6 million in capital investment.

Under Stewart's leadership, Virginia ranked third in the nation in both the Center for Digital Government's 2004 Digital States Survey and its 2004 Best of the Web contest. In 2005, the Government Performance Project recognized Virginia as the best managed state, giving it an "A-" in the information category.

Looking to Virginia's IT future, Stewart sees a highly efficient and modern technology environment that will support changing the way business is done and citizens are served. "Also, it encourages continued expansion of collaborative technology partnerships among state, local and federal governments, and the private sector, for continuous improvement in government operations."