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 5
Page 5 of 6

CIO: One of the challenges the public sector faces is keeping up with the pace of technology change. How important is it that Georgia stay current in terms of IT?

Gov. Perdue: I don't think we have to always have the latest, greatest, cutting-edge technology as long as what we're using is functional, efficient and productive.

As rapidly as technology is changing nowadays, in an organization this size, you can spend most all of your time and most of your capital just retooling every few months to have the latest and greatest. I think we have to do [big technology change] in stages. Training is a huge part of any deployment of new technology, and there has to be a certain total life cost that's amortized from a training perspective and from a utilization perspective, before we make decisions to move into the beta approach of any new technology. Oftentimes, we are probably not well-served by trying to be the first to test something.

CIO: As you say, you have to digest big projects in stages. What are some of the big projects being phased in right now?

Gov. Perdue: We are just rolling out a project that was painfully slow and cost millions of dollars: our Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS). SACWIS didn't even exist when I took office. There were several attempts to put a system in place dating back several years, but each one failed for a variety of reasons, most related to poor project management and problems with the procurement process. But it is a moral imperative. [A federal mandate also requires that all states develop a comprehensive automated case management tool to support state child protection workers.] We put a priority on it when we got here, we put project managers on there, and we believe we've got a good functioning system that we are rolling out statewide in a very aggressive fashion.

The other system, where there had also been some multimillion-dollar hiccups, is our student information system in our Department of Education. I believe, to do the right thing by our students, we need a good student information system. [The Georgia Statewide Student Information System (GSSIS) assigns allstudents a unique identifier that allows the state to track their progress as they move from school to school and match their test scores to their records.]

This is one area I thought we were making great progress. But we've had some disappointing setbacks over the last year so we are going to put in more intensive project management. GTA has assumed a primary role in that project, where heretofore it was controlled by the Department of Education.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Page 5
Page 5 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.