February 17, 2011 By Elaine Pittman
Barry Condrey aims to make Chesterfield County, Va., a model of connected government. As CIO since 2006, he wants IT to improve residents’ quality of life — an initiative made apparent by the multitude of citizen-centric apps on the county’s website. From closed circuit TV, which streams board and commission meetings online, to Citizen GIS, an online mapping feature, the projects helped the county take first place in its population category in Government Technology’s 2010 Digital Counties Survey and Best of the Web Awards.
“As opposed to making citizens have to understand the structure of our government … let’s put them at the center and figure out what services need to be delivered directly to them,” Condrey said.
Before joining the public sector, Condrey worked for Circuit City Stores Inc. where he learned the value of fiscal management, which is evident in the county’s investment model that scores and vets each dollar that’s allocated for technology — about $1.4 million annually. “It’s not just a bright, shiny object perspective on investment management, it’s really that you give me $1 in this technology fund for this project, and I’ll return two to you down the road,” he said.
Elected in 2009 and 2010 as president of the Virginia Local Government Information Technology Executives organization, Condrey promotes collaboration and information sharing among the consortium. Participating governments share systems and distribute government-produced software.
An internal reorganization aligned the county Information Systems Technology Department around enterprise lines of business instead of stovepipe architecture that, for example, said three people must work on public safety IT. Although the reorganization was completed in 2010, Condrey said it’s constantly being re-examined. “It’s a much flatter organization, much more agile and it’s much easier to get a handle on your portfolio when you’ve got your resources aligned like that.”
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.