Hale'and farewell to government IT

Mike Hale

This will be my last article in GCN/State & Local. I will be leaving Georgia state government to work in the private sector.

In fact, I am getting the rare opportunity to combine two things I love: information technology and golf. I am joining Golf Augusta Pro Shops Inc. as chief technology officer. Golf Augusta is a national chain of golf retail stores and instructional facilities. Like so many traditional retailers, the company is rapidly moving into the realm of electronic commerce.

It has been a pleasure for me to be able to share my thoughts and experiences through GCN/State & Local. But it is time to move on.

I have served as a state chief information officer or in a similar position for five governors in two states. These jobs have occupied 17 years of my life. During that time, I have developed, sold and coordinated many IT plans and policies. I've operated under many management styles and learned to assimilate many new technologies.

Things are changing in Georgia, so I think my timing is good. On July 1, the new Georgia Technology Authority opened its doors for business. The brainchild of Gov. Roy E. Barnes, who spearheaded the legislative push to get it established, the authority centralizes the state's IT policies, budgets, standards and technology architectures.

This governor has numerous IT initiatives on his agenda, and the Georgia Technology Authority, I believe, will be an effective platform for getting them done.

When he was elected in January of last year, the first major IT challenge Barnes'and the rest of us in government'faced was the urgent need for year 2000 systems repair. I had his full support in tackling this problem. Subsequently, I worked on the planning committee creating the transition to the new authority.

Still, I'd wanted to switch to the private sector for a while and, even though I was in the running for the dual job of executive director and CIO of the new authority, this opportunity presented itself. I thought Barnes should be able to name someone new to run the authority from the outset.

Maybe it is my military background and in particular my training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., but I cannot help but close this series with a thought about success in technology. Just like success in other endeavors, desirable results in IT most often come through leadership and the ability to bring steady, consistent and competent direction to the often-resistant organizations involved.

If the IT past is prologue, the need for good technology leadership will continue and will likely be sought from a wider audience. That's in part because elected officials are reaching out more and more to CIOs, asking them to articulate the values and requirements for the enormous cultural change caused by moving government online.

I wish all my readers, and especially CIOs, the very best luck in the future as you continue on one of the most challenging and worthwhile journeys you could ever choose. I also want to thank the staff of GCN/State & Local for all the support, coaching and constructive editing they have provided me in this most memorable experience.

Mike Hale was chief information officer of Georgia and previously executive director of Florida's Information Resource Commission. He is a retired Army colonel.

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