Do you think innovation drives a certain level of competitiveness, where instead of collaborating governments are racing against one another?

I don’t know it is that, but it could be. I think that it is just more a combination of a non- invented hearsay syndrome. Everybody wants to think that they are different and their challenges are unique. But by and large, there are many more similarities than differences. The other problem (and this is where I always thought NASCIO [National Association of State Chief Information Officers] should have, could have, would have and they don’t) is there needs to be a mechanism that pulls everybody together to do this. This is something where the feds could do things around specific federal areas. Like on transportation, the feds should be much more of a leader; ITS for the states and locals. That’s part of the reason there is no coordination mechanism to help these disparate actors do things together.

How can government be innovative in recruiting and obtaining the next generation of workers? Do you think that innovation is even needed there?

I think the single biggest thing to do is get rid of civil service protection, frankly. But that is not going to happen — just because there is dead wood wherever you are that zaps morale. Second, and perhaps more seriously, the single biggest thing to do is say that your organization, your government, is going to commit to being in the top 10 percent of innovative governments in the country — and you are going to provide an environment where the people who come in or are there are going to be able to work on fascinating, cutting-edge projects— they are going to move state-of-the-art forward. That, to me, is the single biggest way that you could attract and retain good people.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

State and local governments need to be thinking more strategically beyond the Web. For example, think about machine-to-machine interfaces. In other words, how do you actually use IT to make the city itself work better? Smart cities are not just about having a really useful interface on the Web that’s about the actual government. But rather it’s about using IT embedded throughout the entire geography of your jurisdiction. I don’t think that a lot of places have done that, and that to me is the next big opportunity.

Karen Stewartson, Managing Editor Karen Stewartson  | 

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.