Category: Government

Government

Counties Lead the IT Way, Part II – The Four IT Priorities for Counties

Counties Lead the IT Way, Part II – The Four IT Priorities for Counties

Last time I relayed some of the discussions and trends from this year's Center for Digital Government Digital Counties award ceremony. While it may have sounded like county governments don’t have the budget for moving along current IT projects or starting new ones, that wasn’t true at all. In fact, in areas that ran the gamut from replacement cycles to the realities of the “new normal” of more with less, the counties I spoke with were focused on four specific IT priorities now and into the coming year: 1. County finance and administration departments across the country are focusing on replacing their ERP solutions. These solutions are the backbone of their purchasing, contracting and HR technology investments and because government buys in cycles, many of these systems reached the time when the systems either have to be replaced or upgraded. Either way, this requires a major effort from the folks in government who own these solutions. But they definitely think it’s worth it – they know that upgrade or replacement is necessary to achieve more automation, utilize enhanced compliance tools and connect data and documents for more efficiency. Importantly, these system replacements are also seen as a a direct tie to enhanced transparency and open government.
Counties Lead the IT Way, Part I – View from the Digital Counties Awards 2011

Counties Lead the IT Way, Part I – View from the Digital Counties Awards 2011

A few weeks ago, I sat amongst some of the most tech savvy counties in the U.S. at the Center for Digital Government's 2011 Digital Counties Awards. Each year, the Center selects county winners in population categories based on a survey of their IT efforts. Because these counties span all different geographies and populations, the discussions were a microcosm of the issues facing county government. Based on some incredible conversations with people who are passionate about government IT, here are my “big three” on what is affecting county governments’ use of IT today:

Frankenstein in the Courts – The Perils of Bolt-On Document Management

At a recent conference about court technology, many of the users were considering adding document management functionality to their court case management databases. They reasoned, correctly, that a connection between the high volume of paper documents and the case database record would be helpful to their staff. In fact, courts are facing budget pressures like every other governmental organization and these folks were concerned about how they could keep up with the workload, even though they have not experienced the same level of staff cutbacks as other departments. This was an illuminating discussion because it showed several things. First, courts are embracing document management. This is critical. Courts depend on documents to operate, and they run better on electronic documents whose security and access can be controlled, and whose sensitive data can be redacted automatically if the documents need to be shared.
The Map Is the Context, the Documents Are the Content-GIS and ECM in Government

The Map Is the Context, the Documents Are the Content: GIS and ECM in Government

Analyzing street intersections to recommend the best place for businesses to locate. This was the first opportunity my agency had to leverage GIS. We could tell a business where the T1 lines were, match that with available office space and highway access and develop a proposal that brought together those pieces for a sound location decision. In that instance, and many others over my years in government agencies, using GIS boiled down to this: agencies had a lot of information, and they needed context around the information to make the disparate pieces make sense. GIS provided the context. Since the GIS start in the mid-1990s, we have become increasingly more sophisticated in our use of GIS. I have seen housing policy, crime analysis, health policy and human services policy being advanced by the wonderful clarity that a GIS map brings.
Electricity and Paper – Why Electrical Co-operatives Are Turning to ECM Software

Electricity and Paper – Why Electrical Co-operatives Are Turning to ECM Software

When we turn on a light switch, we often take that for granted, but there was a time when large parts of the United States did not have electricity. Thanks to investments made during the New Deal and after, rural and more sparsely populated areas of the United States were brought on to the grid. Every day, more than 900 not-for-profit electrical co-operatives serve 42 million members in 47 states and they do this by maintaining and providing an essential service. Electrical co-operatives are unique in that they are governed by seven principles. Arguably the most important of these, that their customers are members, is critical to the customer service and affordable cost of the power they provide. But, unfortunately, recent fluctuations in energy prices have affected their ability to provide electricity at an affordable price. The rising prices at the pump have had a ripple effect on a number of fuels, often causing other fuels, coal, natural gas and propane, to rise in price as well.
Paper is NOT Transparent – The Role of Document Management in Open Government

Paper is NOT Transparent – The Role of Document Management in Open Government

Difficult budget times produce changes in government. One trend that I’ve been watching with interest is government using IT to drive transparency. If you can believe it, before computers were used in government, a "paper trail" was considered good government. And for the times, why not? Transactions and government decisions could be reviewed and reconstructed using files for the project, expenditure or decision. This tradition is so completely entrenched in government that the paper files are now engulfing government. The same tool that used to ensure good decision-making is, instead, draining time from understaffed departments and agencies and by sheer volume, making it impossible to really see what happened. The issue of transparency is a multi-level problem.
Asset Management in Government – It Takes a Technology Team of Cityworks and ECM

Asset Management in Government – It Takes a Technology Team of Cityworks and ECM

As with many things in life, I learned the hard way about the importance of having a complete solution in IT. My first task as an IT director was to find a way to maintain the very particular data my agency needed. We developed housing with taxpayers' money. We needed to know where that housing was, how the project progressed and all our compliance tasks including that the assets we were creating, housing units, were properly maintained. It wasn't until later, when we missed some of these tasks that I realized that there was a gap in my solution and hence, the title of this post!
When Public Housing Authority Management Means Document Management

When Public Housing Authority Management Means Document Management

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably wondered “Why does Terri get so jazzed about document management and government?” For the most part, it comes down to three words: public housing authorities (PHAs). Are you familiar with PHAs? If yes, you know why I think document management’s a game changer in government. The legislation creating public housing and authorities to manage the program was passed in the 1930s, which may explain why, historically, these agencies have been buried in paper. Simply put, the PHA had to develop a way to collect, store, manage and update data long before the computer, email, the Internet and the database.