Texas CIO of the Year Chosen; Sacramento Gasification Plan Canceled

Collin County's Caren Skipworth named top Texas CIO.

2009 Texas CIO of the Year Named

Collin County IT Director Caren Skipworth was named Texas CIO of the Year on Jan. 27 at Government Technology's GTC Southwest 2009 in Austin.

As IT director of the fast-growing north Texas county, Skipworth promoted intergovernmental collaboration and provided innovative leadership, according to judges. She oversaw the creation of a fiber communication network shared by Collin County, local community colleges and a handful of area cities. She also orchestrated her IT department's relocation from a 24-year-old data center to a new facility over two weekends using only county staff, which saved the jurisdiction $76,000 on the move alone.

Skipworth, who joined Collin County in 1990, said she was honored to win the award and thanked her "talented and dedicated" staff. "I'm very proud of this," she said. "I believe technology is the catalyst for change."


Plasma Gasification Plan Goes Up in Smoke

The Sacramento, Calif., City Council voted Jan. 15 to end discussions on the potential construction of a plasma arc gasification facility to destroy garbage. An 8-0 vote directed the city to cease working with U.S. Science and Technology (USST), the Sacramento-based company that proposed building the plant at no cost to the city.

Sacramento Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond said the facility wouldn't meet state renewable energy standards, one of several reasons she couldn't recommend going forward.

Dean Tibbs, president of energy-consulting firm Advanced Energy Strategies Inc. (AES), evaluated the proposal from USST on the city's behalf. "The project does not look economically attractive," he told the Council.

USST had claimed the gasification plant would make a profit within two years from the sales of industrial slag -- a byproduct of the gasification process that can be used in road base, concrete and fertilizer. USST told AES the slag could be sold at $400 per ton. Tibbs told the City Council that while AES was unfamiliar with the slag market, $400 per ton seemed too high an estimate, and instead assigned it $0 value in its calculations.

"In our assessment, without the $400 a ton slag, there would not be a positive cash flow until the 11th year of operation," Tibbs said.

Hammond said, based on testimony from multiple Council meetings on the matter, she believed "plasma arc gasification is not a certifiably clean technology." She added that AES's estimate that the facility would operate $70 million in the red means the plasma arc gasification is "not quite ready" as a viable technology.


Govtech.com Hot List

Here are the 10 most popular stories on Govtech.com from Jan. 11 to Feb. 11, 2009.

1. Site Reveals Salaries of New York State Employees
Conservative think tank launches Web site with comprehensive state financial data.

2. Macs Appear on More Government Desktops
Macs gain foothold in San Antonio and Washington, D.C.

3. Governments use Twitter for Emergency Alerts, Traffic Notices
Agencies help move free microblogging service beyond social media novelty.

4. Teri Takai: IT Consolidation Will Be 'Federated'
California CIO says consolidated data centers, e-mail and networks will save $1.5 billion.

5. Sex Offenders' GPS Devices Not a Silver Bullet, States Say
Problems with GPS monitoring of sex offenders beg a more thoughtful approach.

6. Enterprise Architecture Demystified
What is enterprise architecture and who is it intended to benefit?

7. Top 10 Secrets of Earned Value Management
A principles-oriented methodology for planning and executing projects.

8. Gartner's Top 10 Information Technology Predictions for 2009
Poor economy will drive growth of server virtualization and cloud computing.

9. New York State Cancels Wireless Network Contract
CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart says vendor failed to deliver a reliable network.

10. Napolitano Issues Immigration and Border Security Directive
U.S. Homeland Security secretary announces a wide-ranging action directive.

Chad Vander Veen

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.

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