Welcome to Government Technology’s 2013 “Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” issue — our annual salute to the men and women who truly make government more efficient, more effective and friendlier to the citizens it serves. Since 2002, this issue has been our way to recognize the hardest working and most innovative individuals in the public sector.

Those qualities may be more in demand today than ever before. After years of grinding recession, budgets are bouncing back. But there’s a backlog. Maintenance was deferred, upgrades were delayed and new projects were put on hold. Where new initiatives were launched, many centered on server consolidation and other cost-cutting measures. That’s important work — and much of it still continues — but this year saw growing demand for game-changing innovation.

Our Top 25 for 2013 truly are changing the game. State CIOs like Colorado’s Kristin Russell, California’s Carlos Ramos and Minnesota’s Carolyn Parnell are moving applications into the cloud and unveiling new mobile services. Elected leaders like Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker are leading modernization plans and using technology to remake the relationship between government and constituents. And others are at the forefront of issues such as strengthening cybersecurity, building a smart electrical grid and creating a nationwide communications network for first responders.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of energy and activity around innovation — and these are the people who are leading the charge. A few years ago, it would have been rare to hear state and local technology leaders say they want to give up their data centers. Now it’s fairly common and growing more so every day. Similarly, more agencies are figuring out ways for employees to use their own sophisticated mobile devices at work — a move that makes employees both happier and perhaps more productive.

Forward-looking communities are nurturing technology businesses by partnering with software entrepreneurs. These arrangements are driving economic development and often delivering useful data-driven apps for citizens. And evolving sensor and analytics technologies are opening the door to smart infrastructure and sophisticated decision modeling.

In all, it’s an exciting and important time to be in the technology field. These trends will impact the lives of constituents and the success of communities. And our Doers, Dreamers and Drivers are helping to shape their outcome.

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  |  Editor

Steve Towns is editor of Government Technology, and executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government Technology,Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market.