Colorado climbing to IT pinnacle

Technology is all about speed. But in Colorado, government officials are

taking it a bit slower.

In three to five years, the Centennial State hopes to be the technological

model for all other governments. To do that, it unveiled a far-reaching

report this summer titled {http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/govnr_dir/nccfinalreport.htm}

"New Century Colorado" that not only called for a more accessible, cost-effective

and technologically innovative government but to do that through a collaborative

approach involving state workers.

"It has top-down support with bottom-up change," said Alan Philp, deputy

director of the state Office of Innovation and Technology, regarding the

comprehensive plan, which he called a "cost-saving handbook."

Colorado's approach is the right way to go, according to Mark Boyer, a project

consultant at Cisco Systems Inc. "There's a huge digital divide inside government,"

said Boyer, a former chief information officer and state representative

for Alaska.

He said most states are implementing technology too quickly, in a piecemeal

fashion, and not integrating their agencies. Many focus externally but neglect

state workers who need to be "reskilled and retooled" technologically and

to think in terms of "cross-functional" applications. A recent e-government

study ranked Colorado at the bottom half of the list of electronic services

provided by states. "I think I would have expected that," said the state

CIO, Paul Quade, but he added that the state's new report addresses technology

shortcomings and more.

The report, spearheaded by Gov. Bill Owens, has 21 priority recommendations,

Quade explained, which includes creation of an Internet portal for electronic

procurement and various online licensing and registration applications.

About a third of these recommendations have been implemented so far, he

said.

Other report highlights to improve state efficiency include:

* An integrated statewide human resources and financial system.

* Centralized timekeeping.

* Online expense reimbursement, benefits and job application systems.

* Centralized management of state real-estate assets and vehicle fleet.

* Facilitating telecommuting.

The report also calls for an agencywide standardized technology infrastructure

and mandated use of a Multi-Use Network (MNT), a fiber-optic network connecting

all state offices and schools in Colorado's 64 counties. The $37 million

MNT contract was awarded even before the report was released. State officials

estimated implementing the recommendations would cost $20 million to $40

million. They also say the state will save about $40 million from such technology

improvements.

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