A net runs through IT in Big Sky country

A net runs through IT in Big Sky country

Tony Herbert, chief of information services, says Montanans should be able to register their cars over the Internet. 'Then they can turn around and go fly fishing for the rest of the day, like I do.'

If you go fishing for state data, Montana's system chief wants you to find it

By Trudy Walsh

GCN Staff

Who's In

Tony Herbert

Administrator, Information

Services Division

Jeff Brandt

Chief, Policy, Development

and Customer Relations

Carl Hotvedt

Chief, Telecommunications


Sharon Gorie

Chief, Systems Support

Paul Rylander

Chief, Computing



Source: Montana's Information

Services Division

Tony Herbert, administrator for Montana's Information Services Division, spent his high school years and early 20s in Alexandria, Va.

When Herbert was 24 years old, he went to visit his brother in Montana for six months. Herbert took one look around at Big Sky country and knew he had found home. He enrolled in the University of Montana at Missoula, where he received a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1978.

He joined the telecommunications bureau in 1982 and was bureau chief for 12 years. Herbert has been ISD administrator since 1994. He also spent a term as president of the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors.

HERBERT: In Montana, you're walking around with at least $10,000 worth of scenery in your pocket. That's about the amount of salary you have to sacrifice to work here. But it's worth it, living in the most beautiful state there is. I'm raising my kids in Helena, a city with just 35,000 people.

Our biggest issue going forward is electronic government. We recently had a strategic planning session about it. [Washington chief information officer] Steve Kolodney was a guest speaker. Soon we'll be rolling out a citizen-centric electronic portal. We provide a lot of great information on the Internet now. But we still need to take more dramatic steps on electronic commerce. In the next few years you'll see Montana provide a high level of services. E-government is our flagship issue.

We're negotiating a new contract with US West [Inc. of Englewood, Colo.] to upgrade the State and Universities of Montana Multiprotocol Integrated Telecommunications Network, or SummitNet, our statewide frame relay network. We're going to add 10 asynchronous transfer mode switches throughout Montana, in small communities like Dillon and Miles City'communities with populations of 10,000 or so.

The ATM switches will be a very good thing for Montana's economic development. We're the fourth- largest state in the nation, but we're the third-smallest in population. The best way to cover these huge distances economically is through consolidation and improvement of the state's networks.

We are making a transition from an agricultural and mining economy to an information economy. Resources such as SummitNet will help attract companies to the state.

We didn't spend nearly as much on the Year 2000 problem as other states, but we had the same level of success. We did the whole thing in-house. We had a small amount of additional funding, but we did most of it with the budget we had. And come Jan. 1, we didn't have a single year 2000 problem. Nothing.


Policy, Development and Customer Relations'Develops computing and telecommunications standards and policies, manages the statewide 911 program, coordinates enterprise geographic information systems programs

Computing and Systems Support'Newly created
bureau that provides directory services, software products, mainframe services, desktop PC support

Telecommunications'Handles data network, LAN, WAN, and video and voice operations
Statewide Accounting, Budgeting and Human Resources System'Supports statewide client-server PeopleSoft system that provides the state's 10,000 employees in 56 counties with access to financial and human resources information


Electronic government'Montana will expand its electronic services to citizens over the next few years. In addition to bolstering its Web site, at www.state.mt.us, the state is developing an Internet Technology Services bureau to meet the growing demand for e-government.

State and Universities of Montana Multiprotocol Integrated Telecommunications Network (SummitNet)'A statewide frame relay network that connects all of Montana's 56 counties.

Process Oriented Integrated System (POINTS) Project'The Revenue Department is integrating the state's tax systems into a single Web-enabled system.

But most of all, Montana is just a fantastic place to be. The people who first came here were pioneers who homesteaded the state. And it truly is one of the most beautiful states. Did you see that movie 'A River Runs Through It'? That was filmed right around here.

Now that the year 2000 is out of the way, the next big thing on our agenda is e-government. We're going to really transform services. We're creating an Internet Technology Services bureau to handle all that's happening in that arena. People shouldn't have to travel great distances just to get their car registered. They should be able to go to the library and get it done over the Net. Then they can turn around and go fly fishing for the rest of the day, like I do.

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