How Florida Local Government Agencies Collaborate to Improve Citizen Services

Florida local government agencies collaborate through a unique organization to share insights, learnings, and technologies to improve services to its citizens.

Many private sector IT organizations today still face budget challenges with the added pressure to create unique customer experiences as they collaborate as part of business teams to improve competitive differentiation. Now think about local government IT organizations, faced with the same challenges but having much smaller IT teams; but still having to work with numerous agencies looking for ways to provide improved services to its citizens. Kind of makes you shudder doesn't it.

Well, if you work for a local government agency in Florida, you are prayers have been answered. Just ask Toni Bleiweis, Digital Strategist for Lee County Clerk of Courts Florida, who is the current President of the Florida Local Government Information Systems Association(FLGISA). I presented last July at the FLGISA semi-annual event and had the opportunity to connect with Bleiweiss as well as a number or FLGISA members. Bleiweiss told me that FLGISA was founded in 1976 for the purpose of fostering professionalism of its members and sharing ideas and experiences.

FLGISA is a partner and a sponsor of the FSU John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government (FIOG). FIOG offers two certification programs: Certified Government Chief Information Officer (CGCIO) and Certified Public Technology Manager (CPTM). These programs provide public sector technology professionals with educational experiences that will enhance their abilities to serve as leaders in their jurisdictions and on behalf of the state (http://www.cgcioflordia.org, http://www.flgisa.org/news-3/). ”

To stay current with today's changing needs, FLGISA constantly enhances program and education offerings for our members. Today, FLGISA (affectionately known as The Association) incorporates the following four areas that help its members improve services to its citizens: Leadership, Technology Awareness, Teaming, and Innovation. Does FLGISA really help members improve their professional skills? Just ask Steve Narvaez who leads the IT organization for the City of Deltona Florida. He has won numerous awards and recently was recognized by Computerworld as one of the Premier 100 Technology Leaders.

If you're currently one of the 482 members from 206 of the local Florida agencies, read on to find out ways FLGISA membership can help improve the value of citizen services. If you are not a member, you have to read on because you are missing a golden opportunity to learn, network, and excel

Following is an overview of FLGISA, Key benefits of FLGISA membership, and examples of some of the Innovation awards.

FLGISA Overview

FLGISA is organized into six districts across the state of Florida with each district led by an elected District Director and Deputy Director. Directors serve on the FLGISA Board providing a voice for each district.

FLGISA Courtesy of FLGISA

Key Benefits to FLGISA Membership

During the past year, I've had the opportunity to speak to a number of FLGISA members to learn more about the organization and how participation benefits their careers. What I found is there are four key areas that benefit members. The first is how members improve their leadership skills. The second is what I term technology awareness; where members learn more about relevant technologies that can improve supporting integral processes and external services provided to citizens. The third is teaming where members can improve their teaming and collaboration skills. The fourth is innovation where members learn from others how citizen services are improved through innovative solutions as well as innovative thinking.

Following is a graphic depicting these four key areas followed by examples from FLGISA members on the value they receive from each key benefit component and examples FLGISA Technology Achievement Awards honoring member city and local government.

Four Key IT Benefits of FLGISA Membership. Courtesy of Phil Weinzimer Strategere Consulting

Four Key IT Benefits of FLGISA Membership.

Leadership

Keith Nowlin, IT Manager, Orange County Comptroller: The FLGISA helps facilitate building successful IT leaders in the following three ways:

  • Active members participating in meetings surround themselves with successful leaders at every meeting. These leaders have influenced me through example and have offered invaluable insight for questions/answers about problems I have faced in my own career.  
  • FLGISA affords the members numerous opportunities to learn leadership by way of volunteering for committees and service on the board. Service on the board has greatly expanded my leadership skills providing me the opportunity to work with other leaders to achieve common goals. 
  • FLGISA is active in growing leaders through their partnership with Florida State in creating the Certified Public Technology Manager Leadership Program and Certified Government Chief Information Officer programs. These programs have been instrumental in honing the executive leadership skills of numerous IT leaders over the past 10+ years.  

Technology Awareness

Roosevelt Pacheco-IT Manager, Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court

 The Florida Local Government Information System Association (FLGISA) is not just about conferences. The networking capability enables members to expand and share knowledge among top CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors, and IT Managers within Florida local government. Unlike many other conferences that limit the opportunity to have meaningful knowledge sharing, FLGISA fosters those opportunities through roundtable discussions, vendor interaction, and unmatched learning and the exchange of experiences. It is thru this medium that we can see real-world examples of what may or may not work within the jurisdiction.  This type of knowledge sharing has become an asset for many local governments in reducing consulting cost, time, and effort in delivering the best products and services available to its citizens

Innovation

Lazaro Martinez, Department of Information Technology -City of Lakeland Florida

Innovation is the practical application of ideas and technologies to create new and better goods or services. FLGISA is an organized community of practice that enables members to network with other county or city government agencies to share challenges, opportunities, and technology trends. We have opportunities to collaborate on ideas, ask questions, and learn about how technology is utilized across the state to streamline municipal services. This enables city and county governments to provide the best services and associated processes to the citizens of Lakeland.

FGISA Awards Innovative Members

FLGISA annually honors county and city government members Technology Achievement Awards that provide unique improvements to citizen services. Following are three examples from 2016 awards

Kevin Kryzda, CIO-Martin County : When a storm, fire, or other disaster strikes, Martin County agencies must identify inaccessible areas, assess overall damage, and focus recovery efforts while identify if they qualify for State and/or Federal Declaration with a specified time. To improve the accuracy of data and improve the response time the Martin County IT team developedArcGIS Mobile that enables members of damage assessment team to collect, store and report, via dashboard, any of the structural damage assessments during emergency response activities, in real-time. The solution automates previously manual process, conforms to FEMA damage assessment required data, for photo collection of actual damage, and recording, via geocoding) of exact damage location

Steve Bordelon, Director, Information Systems Services at Palm Beach County

Sherry Howard, Deputy Director, Dept. of Economic Sustainability at Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners

Kelly Ratchinsky, Countywide GIS Coordinator at Palm Beach County

Every county seeks to attract business to increase revenue streams. Palm Beach County has numerous websites that provide various types of information for the 1500 business that seek information every year. Requests vary but include questions about property development regulations, enterprise zones, economic development agencies, etc. Feedback from businesses indicated a deep frustration about the slow turnaround time.

The IT team developed a web-based solution to improve responsiveness to businesses, expand the business community’s access to public information, and increase the efficiency with which staff responds to numerous requests forinformation

Lazaro Martinez, Department of Information Technology -City of Lakeland Florida, and his team developed Express-Pay, a real-time payment solution for Lakeland citizenry where Kiosks conveniently positioned throughout the city provides ability to look up balances and make payments for utilities and other services using cash, credit, or debit, 24/7.

Using the latest cloud technologies, the Information Technology Department of the City of Lakeland developed a payment intake engine that reduces the time to process payments from one hour to a few seconds, at the same time this technology enabled the installation of several Express Pay Kiosk around the Lakeland downtown area.

FLGISA is a truly collaborative organization that provides its members with great opportunities to learn from peers, improve their leadership, technology, innovation, and teaming skills with a net result of improving services to its citizens

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