February 17, 2011 By Lauren Katims Nadeau
When Harold Tuck, CIO of San Diego County, was a boy, he learned an important life lesson from his grandma — a lesson that continues to help him manage one of the most successful IT outsourcing projects in the country. “She would say, ‘Never stop the opportunity to learn,’” said Tuck. “This job is the epitome of that phrase.”
Managing the county’s $700 million outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman, which was two years under way when Tuck took his position in 2008, is a challenging task. Tuck said a key to making this contract work is good relationship management between the outsourcer and his team. “A lot of it is about communication, understanding expectations, being able to have those hard conversations when things aren’t going well,” he said.
As much credit as he deserves, Tuck doesn’t feel comfortable alone under the spotlight. He attributes the success of the county to his team, who under Tuck’s leadership, created a strategic plan for the next three years that involves developing a new mobile strategy for residents and government employees; updating the financial, time keeping and human resource management systems; and redesigning the county’s intranet and public-facing website. One aspect he’s particularly excited about is the IT IQ knowledge center, a SharePoint portal on the intranet for county employees to improve their understanding of technology.
Even more, Tuck’s quarterly meetings with the Innovation Council, composed of a dozen county employees, to discuss IT innovation and transformation, helps the county stay one step ahead on the technology front.
“It is always ongoing, a continuous learning process by all stretch of the imagination,” he said.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.