Can You Go It Alone?

Is it possible for a state to pull off a project similar in size and scope to the Texas Integrated Enrollment Systemwithout help from the private sector?

Not surprisingly, all three bidding teams currently vying for theprogram say the answer is "no." Some form of public/private partnershipappears to be the wave of the future in most cases, they say.

But not everyone is so certain. Given the right political climate, astate's information technology managers should be perfectly able tomanage a significant re-engineering project independently, says LarrySinger, a research fellow at Harvard University's Program on StrategicComputing and Telecommunications in the Public Sector.

"There isn't any reason why states couldn't do it in-house," agreed BobGreeves, a Vienna, Va., consultant on state and local IT policies. "Thebiggest stumbling block is rigid personnel regulations that don't givestates the flexibility to retool in terms of human resources."

Could your state launch a large-scope IT project by itself? Ask yourselfthese questions, experts suggest:Is there strong and effective leadership from the governor's office?Does the administration show an understanding of basic technologyissues?Does the governor have a good working relationship with thelegislature?Have both the governor and the legislature indicated a willingnessto address human-services issues directly?Are state workers' unions open to negotiations regarding reskillingprograms and other personnel changes?Is the administration willing to focus MIS resources where needed?

TRACY MAYOR is a Beverly,Mass.-based free-lance writer specializing in information technology.

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