Technology Authority to guide Georgia IT

To provide a centralized information technology organization working across

agency lines, Georgia has created the Georgia Technology Authority.

The authority, which came together July 1 and will have its first board

meeting next week, will provide "more centralized access to information

technology," said Jim Flowers, the state's assistant to the governor for

technology.

The group, composed of 12 members (one nonvoting), will manage the state's

technology issues.

"It's going to work to spend our money more wisely and spend it according

to plan," Flowers said.

The authority was discussed as part of "Government Across The Boundaries,"

a meeting Wednesday at the E-Gov 2000 conference in Washington, D.C. The

session focused on ways that government can be more citizen-friendly through

its Internet sites.

Also participating in the discussion were: Joan Steyaert, deputy associate

administrator for the Office of Information Technology at the General Services

Administration, Georgia state Sen. Mike Polak, and Eric Kirkendall of the

United State Department of Agriculture's National Information Technology

Center.

Polak, chair of the Defense, Science and Technology Committee and a

member of the E-commerce Study Committee, said one of the key problems for

legislators is poor communication and lack of knowledge about IT.

He suggested that elected officials work to build relationships with

the community, vendors and agencies to learn. Legislators must also work

to take down "hidden barriers" to electronic commerce, such as laws that

require paperwork, he said.

Steyaert said governments must consider three types of risk: economic,

technological and institutional. To minimize risks, Steyaert said, states

must have strong leaders, identify operations that increase productivity

while decreasing costs and view electronic government as a way to help citizens

as well as make internal operations more efficient.

The authority members were appointed by the various government branches

to provide diversity. Gov. Roy Barnes appointed seven, the speaker of the

house appointed two, the lieutenant governor appointed two, and the chief

justice of Georgia's Supreme Court appointed one, the nonvoting member.

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