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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Someone has to own the project. Oftentimes we delegate these things down to a bureaucracy and no one is in charge. It's almost like building a house by committee: It would almost never get done.

CIO: Many states are trying to transform their IT organizations. Some, like Michigan, are taking on the task themselves. Others, like Texas and Virginia, have brought in outsourcers. What is the right model for Georgia?

Gov. Perdue: Georgia is better served with a balanced approach. I believe that GTA can be that internal consultant for IT solutions. From an operations standpoint, the private sector probably has the expertise and experience [to execute our ideas], as long as we know what we want. We do believe we have to retain some IT capability to make sure that we know what the capabilities of the technology are, so that we can put smart RFPs out on the street, and so we can be very clear in communicating what our expectations are.

Frankly, I believe that public/private competition is perfectly OK. Whether our citizens can be better served by a public enterprise providing a service or by a private enterprise, they really don't care.

CIO: What do you think are the biggest challenges today facing the state generally and the GTA specifically?

Gov. Perdue: Actually, it's a lack of rain; we're really dry.

CIO: Not much IT can do about that, I guess.

Gov. Perdue: You never can know. But the challenge for the GTA, again, is to provide value to our citizens by using the tools of technology in a more productive way.

CIO: Your term will be up in 2010. In terms of the state and its effective use of technology, what would you like your legacy to be?

Gov. Perdue: The only legacy I have is putting good people in place who have good judgment, who understand value, who understand how to improve processes. Even in administrative areas. How to cut out the fat and to provide enough lubricant in the [system] so that processes function together with as little s friction as possible.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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