The structure of Ohio’s 88 counties is embedded in the state constitution. As a result, Portage County — midway between Cleveland and Youngstown — has 18 elected officials, each with independent areas of responsibility and authority. County IT could thus be expected to end up in 18 different stovepipes, but in Portage County, CIO Brian Kelley has been building bridges for 21 years to “communicate, coordinate and consolidate IT” between elected officials and the 40-plus departments under them.

Those bridges have helped the county produce an integrated court system, GIS, and financial and payroll systems to improve efficiency, reduce costs and deliver services more effectively.

“We’re recognized as one of the most integrated court criminal justice systems in the state,” said Kelley, “and we’re using technology [and] building those bridges so that we have one system going across many silos, fiefdoms, kingdoms.”

Kelley’s enthusiasm for coordination extends beyond the county. To spread the word, he’s active in groups like the Society for Information Management and InfraGard. Kelley co-founded the Ohio City/County IT Association and teaches a public-sector IT graduate course that he created. He has a passion to share his information and expertise to help others be successful with IT implementations, procurements and operations. Says one admirer: “Brian Kelley is one of those unsung heroes who works tirelessly and passionately to educate government officials on public-sector IT at all levels of local government and to break down silos and barriers.”

Wayne Hanson  |  Staff Writer and Editor of Digital Communities

Wayne E. Hanson has been a writer and editor with e.Republic since 1989, and has worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and is currently editor and writer for Digital Communities specializing in local government. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education. He self-published three books of fiction and lives in Sacramento with his wife, Jeannie.