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.

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For example, GTA was responsible for all aspects of operating the state's wide area network (WAN). It built and owned some of the infrastructure itself and leased other components from several different private-sector providers. Being able to finance upgrades to newer technology is just one of the challenges GTA faced. In 2004, GTA outsourced the state WAN to BellSouth (now AT&T). GTA can focus on vendor management of the WAN instead of service delivery. Its staff makes sure the service provider meets contractual obligations, and AT&T is responsible for delivering services and upgrading WAN technology.

The leadership I've placed over there now is Patrick Moore, a young man with an MBA from the University of Virginia that I've got a lot of confidence in. His core training is not in information technology. But he is an intuitive leader, a business analyst who has an enterprise-wide vision of how the GTA can be the trusted internal resource to agencies for technology solutions.

The way I look at GTA is as somewhat of an IBM Solutions type of agency for the state of Georgia, to help agencies think through their processes, to think through the operations that they need, to help them to define within the context of the state what is the best use of technology.

CIO: Why was it more important for the CIO to have business knowledge than to have technology knowledge?

Gov. Perdue: I wanted a business leader there because the job is not simply about technology. Technology is the tool that we use for improving business processes and for business productivity. Both for learning to do the right things, which I define as effectiveness, and doing them in a way that provides the greatest value, which I think is efficiency.

I don't think you have to be a technologist to know what the application of technology to business processes can achieve. It was Patrick's ability to analyze, to assess, to prioritize and to have a business model for the future that impressed me. He has a vision to lead GTA not in a purely reactive mode, but in a very strategic fashion in order to build a long-term IT model for the state that would bring [its agencies] together, that would create the synergies that I think are available in an organization this size.

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