Thomas Freeman

CIO, Roseville, Calif.

by / July 9, 2004
Thomas Freeman oversees an operation that in some ways recalls his private-sector experience as vice president of information technology for a large department store chain. Roseville, a rapidly growing community of 91,000 people located near Sacramento, operates its own electric and environmental utilities, as well as a range of other services that put the city in direct contact with consumers. "Roseville is a full-service city," he said. "So our centralized technology organization is involved in multiple disciplines -- from police and fire, to supporting an electric company."

How does supporting such a wide variety of city services impact your organization?
It becomes quite complex, but from a centralized point, it offers a lot of opportunity too. Deregulation of the electrical industry in the late 1990s caused us to beef up our technology. That was probably good for the overall organization because as we did that, it spilled over into other areas. We saw the need for putting a strong infrastructure in place throughout the city, whether it was our LAN or WAN, or standardizing on platforms and databases.

Roseville is a growing and relatively affluent community. What pressures does that create?
With all of the new infrastructure going in -- roads, water, electric -- we saw a strong need for GIS we could use to present information in a spatial manner, not just on paper in a text environment. Showing things visually and having parcel-based information readily available would allow us to deal with that growth more efficiently. About five years ago, we set off to implement an enterprise GIS, and we're pretty mature with that now. We present some of that informationon the Internet for the community, and they like being able to look at that information on a map-oriented presentation.

Do citizens tend to expect online services now?
Yes. We quickly saw that when we Web-enabled registration for community classes and swim lessons provided by our Parks and Recreation Department. Almost overnight, more than 90 percent of the people who signed up used the Internet. And when we Web-enabled city job applications, that quickly became the standard for how people apply for positions within the city.

How has the economic downturn impacted Roseville's IT budget?
Our budget stayed the same for the last two years, but we're doing more. We decided to go into a thin client environment next budget year, which will help us reduce technology expenditures. We tested it last year in our parks department. This year, we're asking the City Council to approve going enterprisewide. The thin client will save us $1.5 million over five years. Those are the flat-out hard savings, and we know there are soft savings and cost avoidances we didn't factor in.
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