Miami-Dade CIO Formulates Countywide IT Vision

Randy Witt, who in July became Miami-Dade County, Fla.'s first-ever chief information officer, has made it his first priority to make "electronic government" technically feasible.

Witt has spent much of the past several months assessing where the county's 60 departments stand in their own information technology initiatives, while working to get everyone involved in establishing a centralized, countywide IT department and strategy. "The vision is not completely developed, but we're working towards the essence of provide citizens with direct [online] access to the government -- and be able to do things like pay bills or acquire permits online," Witt said. "Some departments are working on their own initiatives along this line, but we need a broader, [countywide] view."

Witt retired from the Air Force in 1997 and worked in the private sector for two years before accepting the CIO position at Miami-Dade, which spans more than 2,000 square miles and boasts a population of more than 2 million people. He is developing a budget to present to the county manager in January, which will be revised and amended for implementation next October.

As the county's incipient CIO, Witt has had to play many roles, including budget analyst, system planner and public affairs liaison. He already has established working groups, one of which is formulating overarching IT standards, and another discussing imaging and electronic document management.

Witt also has told the county's procurement officials that he wants to be notified of any IT-related purchases, and he is moving toward an "enterprise license approach for all software."

Witt knows he has more planning, meetings and convincing in his future but said he is in it for the long haul. "I want to approach IT like a utility," Witt said. "Users don't care what's behind the socket in the wall, they just know electricity should come out. I want to approach IT in the same way."

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