CIO OUTLOOK

Has your agency changed its DNA lately?

Mike Hale

I heard a new phrase recently that describes the scope of change necessary for survival in the so-called dot-com economy. 'Bringing about fundamental changes in the basic DNA structure of the organization' means that organizations require a shift akin to a genetic change in how they think, spend, plan and operate. Gary Lenz, a partner at Arthur Andersen & Co., used the phrase during a presentation.

Today's leaders need to be quick, bold and totally focused on customers, partners and industry trends. The so-called new economy, which engulfs industry and government, values information and intellectual capital more than traditional measures of physical assets'bricks and mortar, and long production lines. Just think of all those dot-com companies with no profits and market caps in the billions.

In the private sector, smart companies have a new awareness of the value of the visionary, highly productive employee. Those in government must ask if they can be as smart and nimble as their counterparts in industry.

In Georgia, Gov. Roy Barnes envisions fundamental changes in the DNA of government so the state can remain competitive in this new economy. Better financial management, service and technology management are high on his list. Barnes has ordered Georgia agencies to Web-enable their services by 2004.

These are the kinds of bold strategies governors ought to push. It reminds me of President Kennedy's call of the early 1960s to land a man on the moon.

The reality is that Georgia, like many states, has a long way to go. To succeed in transforming the state, officials will need to apply many of the management principles of the new economy. New mandates will wither if the state tries to implement them with old procedures.

A bill that is making its way through the Georgia General Assembly would create the legal authority for a new Georgia Technology Authority'and for the state to renew its DNA. At the center of SB 465 is the concept that state government should look at itself as a single, integrated enterprise, with technology infrastructure and applications focused accordingly.

The central authority would ensure that agencies met their technology deployment goals on time and that they followed standards for software development and user support. GTA would also help ensure that the money and people necessary for technology success were available.

A special emphasis would be placed on service-level agreements with agency users and on performance monitoring. Year 2000 remediation taught Georgia's technology staffs a lot about how to measure progress, employ standards and coordinate resources to meet tight time schedules'all without becoming overly burdensome to users. Agencies should keep applying these lessons.

Two prominent features in the bill would let GTA set standards and influence the procurement of products and services. The point of the policies is to improve agencies' returns on investments via standards-based networking, more predictable software development and better support.

SB 465 is subject to modification as it travels down the road to final passage. Stay tuned.


Mike Hale is chief information officer of Georgia. He previously was executive director of Florida's Information Resource Commission, and he is a retired Army colonel. His e-mail address is mhale@itpc.state.ga.us.

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