Why Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue Thinks IT Can Make Government Work Better

As a small business owner in the days before the Internet, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was an early LAN and e-mail adopter who learned to program in Unix. But he won't deploy the latest and greatest technology for state agencies unless it makes them more efficient and improves services to citizens.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Page 2
Page 2 of 6

CIO: What made you think that running state government like a business was a good idea? And what does IT have to do with that?

Gov. Perdue: The primary business principle I wanted to bring [to state government] was fact-based decision-making. Heretofore, I think our state had been run on a lot of emotional, political, "who's-in-power" decisions rather than on data. I don't consider myself particularly gifted from an intuitive standpoint. Therefore, I have to rely on data and facts to make decisions.

I look at data as a compass, not as a map. We know that we want a more educated, healthy, growing and safe state, but what are the data points that we need to achieve those things? The metrics in our state were in very poor shape. The very fact that a state—now, it's a $20 billion business—did not even know how many automobiles it had, who was driving them, what were they being used for; that we had no consolidated database of the property we owned—from the perspective of a CEO or manager, if you don't know where your fixed assets are and what their return on investment is, you have no basis on which to make decisions for the future.

I think the voters of Georgia felt disenfranchised. They believed that decisions were being made capriciously and arbitrarily based on politics rather than on sound principles. I think that was a distinction that I offered: a commitment to make decisions that would be customer-friendly, results-driven, data-driven, and serve people.

CIO: Are there limits to your ability to run Georgia like a business, based on data?

Gov. Perdue: We have to do some things for which there is no profit incentive. But I like to think there's always a value incentive for our state and our citizens. The dividends may not be monetary. They may be better education, better infrastructure, better roads, better schools and better health care. Those are all value choices that depend on policy decisions based on good information. And how do you get that? You've got to have gauges—technological processes and procedures—in place where you can measure and manage where you are.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Page 2
Page 2 of 6
The CIO Fall digital issue is here! Learn how CIO100 award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.