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Nebraska CIO Brenda Decker Talks About State's Transparency Web Site

Nebraska also encourages citizen input with Facebook, Twitter.

Brenda Decker has worked in Nebraska state government for more than 20 years and has served as CIO since Gov. Dave Heineman appointed her in 2005. During her tenure as the state's technology chief, her office and the state's Web site have received numerous awards and accolades, including several from this magazine, the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

What's your top priority as CIO of Nebraska?
Right now it's dealing with our economy and the economic conditions of all our citizens. We're in the process of trying to do more with less and more with the technologies we own today.

Are there technologies on the horizon you're interested in?
We're really looking at combining some of the things we own today. The technologies out there providing services - in an area like health and human services - can be transferred into some of our other agencies to assist people. For example, our call centers. We've never really used our call centers to help us get intelligence so that we can give people the information they need right away.

What's been Nebraska's approach to transparency?
Nebraska's approach has been twofold. One is that we, like many other states, put up a transparency Web site where we allow citizens to look at data, research it and do some manipulation. The other side, I think, is more interesting. We're becoming very transparent in making sure citizens see how we actually set our policies and allowing them to participate in their government. We're doing a lot with [video] streaming Web services to make sure they can see how government operates, how laws are made and how the governor interacts with councils and committees. So we're being transparent in a lot of ways we've never been before.

Are you looking at ways to get citizen input into that process?
Nebraska is big into Web 2.0 technologies. We've been trying very hard to educate our younger citizens, who have never seen newspapers and don't deal in the things we have traditionally used. These are people who use Facebook and Twitter as the normal way to gather information. We have things like health information that we want delivered to our citizens, and the best way to get to them is through Web 2.0 tools.


Chad Vander Veen is a former contributing editor for Emergency Management magazine, and previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.