State of technology update

Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Ridge

"Greatness requires that government be fluent in the language of technology," Ridge said early in his Feb. 6 speech. He cited many examples, including more than $46 million in the budget for the government's technological infrastructure.

Ridge mentioned a three-year project to streamline accounting, budgeting, payroll and other core functions of government. The state also invested $50 million to install computers in 1,100 State Police patrol cars, an effort Ridge said would be like "deploying an extra 200 troopers on the streets and highways."

The governor also pointed to these accomplishments: a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to standardize software for 40,000 state computer users that's saved $9 million; the PAPowerPort Web site; and converting public TV stations to digital.

Ridge also promised to look at how technology and the Internet can play a role in elections. He said the Department of State is partnering with Cumberland County on an online voting project.

Rhode Island: Gov. Lincoln Almond

Focusing on the economy in his Feb. 5 speech, Almond said the state must build its workforce, specifically for information technology jobs.

He suggested linking the state's Human Resources Investment Council with institutions of higher education and with members of the technology industry to establish an Information Technology Center at the Community College of Rhode Island. He proposed $525,000 to fund it. The venture would create a statewide network to develop a pool of employees for the technology industry. "Whether you're a high school senior, whether you're a welfare recipient or whether you're looking for a new job opportunity, we will assess your abilities and refer you to the best entry point in the training network," Almond said.

As for government, Almond wants $8.4 million for e-government projects to improve efficiency and enhance customer service. He also wants to establish the Rhode Island E-Government Fund to pay for technology projects.

"Rhode Islanders should be able to log on to one convenient Web site and renew their driver's license, bid on state proposals and even apply for a new fishing license," Almond said.

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