Maryland CIO: Put people first, IT will follow

Maryland CIO: Put people first, IT will follow

'The reason I stay [in government] is that I like the mission. The mission of private industry is profit. But the mission of government is service to citizens. It's a much bigger mission.'
'LINDA BUREK, CIO OF MARYLAND

Linda Burek could have picked an easier time to become CIO of Maryland. She could have picked a time when the state wasn't faced with a sharp budget downturn and the threat of terrorist attacks.

But Burek is a woman on a mission: the betterment of government in service to the citizen.
Burek brings more than eight years of government service to the post. For four years, she worked at the U.S. Justice Department, where she was deputy CIO and head of the systems technology staff. Before that, she worked at the Patent and Trademark Office for four years, directing efforts to re-engineer patent systems.

'I must admit, when I first started working in government, it was a job,' Burek said. 'But the reason I stay is that I like the mission. The mission of private industry is profit. But the mission of government is service to citizens. It's a much bigger mission. For example, at PTO I worked on a project that would let people file patent applications electronically from anywhere in the world. Not too many companies have that kind of scope.'

Time to regroup

Burek comes to Maryland at a time when budgets are strained. But all is not gloom and doom, she said. 'This is a great time to regroup,' she said. 'Sure, some projects in the development stages are going to be put on hold. But this gives us time to re-evaluate our priorities.'

Security reforms

In light of the recent threats to national security, Burek last month introduced an IT reform plan to the legislature that focuses on security. The plan calls for developing a statewide enterprise architecture and appointing a director of statewide security.

No matter where the conversation leads, Burek always comes back to her favorite topic: people. 'They're the best part of my job,' she said. 'Each agency in Maryland has a CIO, and they've been very cooperative. They said to me, 'Provide the leadership, and we're more than happy to follow.' If you've got the people behind you, you can solve the rest of it. The technology is the easy part.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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