Clark Kelso, California CIO

The Best of California 2004 Conference Dec 16 in Sacramento was remarkably upbeat in the midst of fiscal and other challenges facing the state. With many state IT employees planning to retire, said keynoter Mark Struckman, there is no pool of skilled people ready to replace them, so the solution is technology-enabled productivity gains. There is no longer any questions that IT has increased productivity in government, he said, and so it is time for California to move "beyond the e."

Struckman, the Center for Digital Government's VP of research, cited a number of private-sector "beyond the e" best practices such as eBay's bringing on used car dealers rather than competing with them, Netflix outsourcing its network, and JetBlue running call centers from employees' homes for instant scalability. Google replaces servers that go down rather than fixing them -- allowing staff to concentrate on core business. And Starbuck's -- recognizing that the experience is "more than water and beans" -- hired a vice president of entertainment, and now has a music division selling CDs.

Struckman suggested that since small business drives economic growth, government could provide economic information to businesses with their quarterly tax forms, and provide motorists with an online map of smog-check stations.

Government's biggest jobs are taking permissions and moving money, said Struckman, and those are easier to do electronically than over a counter. The state needs to build enterprise governance, and consolidation is essential to build shared services. However, he cautioned, consolidation will not create huge savings. Struckman cited Pay IT Forward a collection of case studies on how to move costs from capital budget to operating budget.

Case for Change

Clark Kelso, CIO of California, also said that IT is a critical player in supporting business needs and operations and in mitigating the state's $6-$8 billion budget deficit. In addition, he said, demands on government are increasing as public expectations increase. The California Performance Review addresses reorganization, said Kelso, as well as advancing specific recommendations. The plan is in final review stages in the Governor's Office. Kelso joked that the federal government's e-government plan has 24 pointes but the CPR e-government plan has 52 points, enough for a deck of cards.

Kelso also mentioned California's Megan's Law database which went live that week, six months ahead of schedule. It was created by DOJ staff with direction from the Legislature. Residents can sign on, put in their home address, ZIP code or school, and pull up a map of sexual offenders residing in their area. Clicking on one of the blue indicators pulls up a photo of the offender, home address and information about his or her crime. "This isn't new data," Kelso said, "this is existing data." Kelso lauded the DOJ's marriage of GIS with existing data, saying it may set a standard on how the state presents information.

Kelso mentioned several new applications that will roll out soon, including e-procurement and an online budget that will carry the same detail as the printed budget. "It's not perfect," said Kelso, "but is a good first step." Also under development are security standards that will feed into a security risk-management plan, and a strategic sourcing initiative. "We will see RFPs next year on statewide contracts that will reduce costs," he said. Also mentioned was infrastructure consolidation, moving toward enterprise infrastructure and standards.

Best of California Winners

The highlight of the conference

Wayne Hanson  |  Editor