US state IT needs champions

SAINT-SAUVEUR, QUE. – The politics around cross-jurisdictionalservice transformation demands that state CIOs know the players inorder to be able to know how to make change happen.

Teri Takai, CIO Michigan, brought that message north of theborder early this week when she addressed the Lac CarlingCongress.

Takai, one of the “Top 50 People in Government Technology YouShould Know” recently led Michigan to the #1 ranking in digitalgovernment.

“There are lots of differences between the state and thelocals,” she said. “By the local organizations I mean, not only themunicipalities, but the school districts and the universities.”

The large universities in Michigan are autonomous so the fundingmodel and the way that they get funded and the way public moniesare spent makes school districts very strong, but not necessarilycoordinated with municipal governments, according to Takai.

“All of that gives us a dynamic around how you actually makecross-jurisdictional efforts happen,” she said. “Also, ourrelationship with our federal CIO is pretty loose.”

“There are not a lot of cross-jurisdictional initiatives. Thereare a lot of federal government initiatives that are across thevarious federal groups, a number of state initiatives, but notnecessarily the coordination that we as state CIOs would like.”

If Canadians were to come to the States they would hear, as acontinuing theme, how from an IT perspective, technology can drivechange across the state and local basis, according to Takai

“The interesting thing about Michigan, which is different,because there are only two other states that have done something(similar),” she said, “is that we have consolidated all of the ITresources into a single state agency.”

Takai now supports 19 state agencies and 1,700 employees with abudget of around US370 million, including more than 800 criticalbusiness applications and 54,000 desktops spread state-wide.

“There is a common theme with all states,” Takai said. “All thestates are challenged right now because there just isn’t enoughmoney to do the kinds of things we would like to do.

“There is a lot more scrutiny on our budgets and on how taxpayermoney is spent on technology.”

Taxpayers want to know where that money spent on IT is going,according to Takai.

“So, we are seeing much more consolidation, like how do we keepfrom having so many email systems?”

In the end though, our challenge is not about the technology,it’s about the people, Takai said.

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