14 Jun State CIO discusses IT and government
Increased demand, lack of funding cited as problems
MADISON – Improving information technology in order to boost business and keep customers happy isn’t exactly a revolutionary practice. But if you’re serving all of Wisconsin and chronically lack funding, even the smallest technological alteration can be a major obstacle.
State Chief Information Officer Matt Miszewski and other speakers described this paradox and how Wisconsin is navigating the tribulations at a conference last Friday, sponsored by Government Technology magazine.
“It’s a bad situation, a difficult situation, but I have the undying belief that eventually we’ll get out of it,” Miszewski said. Last year, Wisconsin ranked 46th nationally in electronic public services, according to the Center for Economic Development.
He elaborated on his staffs’ BHAG – big, hairy, audacious goal – of combating the state’s lack of IT interoperability by breaking down government enterprise barriers.
“The technology’s been around, what’s missing is the organizational component,” he said.
While $500 million a year is spent on IT in Wisconsin, this lack of organization reduces its impact because funding is not always used in the most coordinated fashion, Miszewski said.
“Our systems have to be able to talk to each other, share data and be efficient,” he said.
Increased demands on local and state government and the inescapable budget situation were acknowledged by Department of Administration Secretary Marc Marotta as sizable impediments to building a stable IT infrastructure. He also recommended an enterprise-wide initiative.
“An enterprise-wide focus will save money,” Marotta said. “How the state builds technology will drive the economy’s future, at the high end or low.”
A step forward for Wisconsin’s government, according to Miszewski, was the purchase of over 20,000 desktop units. By purchasing the computers in bulk, the state plans to save between $500 and $700 per unit. He said the overall deal with worth $15 to $16-million-dollar deal. Miszewski stated he expects a $7 million return on investment over the next several years by using this universal platform.
Don Pearson, publisher of Government Technology, playfully defended the magazine’s cover for its January issue – a picture of Mizewski and State Senator Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield. The two were featured in an article as Wisconsin’s IT “odd couple” because of their unique, mostly bipartisan relationship.
“We were looking for an example of cooperation and coordination,” Pearson said. “This problem isn’t about technology – it’s about how people relate.”
Like the other speakers, Pearson suggested looking beyond an agency’s walls or political boundary could work to Wisconsin’s advantage. He also advised the audience to stick to their guns when it comes to important projects and decisions.
“Be unreasonable – not irrational – don’t compromise on a commitment just to get it done,” Pearson said.
Kristin V. Johnson is the Associate Editor of WTN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.