February 27, 2013 By Sarah Rich
When Jonathan Reichental became CIO of Palo Alto, Calif., he was warned repeatedly that government moves slowly.
But the former CIO of O’Reilly Media was used to moving fast. In all, Reichental had spent 15 years in various private-sector tech positions, and he was ready to cut past some of the bureaucracy and get projects under way.
Since joining the city in December 2011, Reichental and his team have delivered more than 100 projects — revamping the city’s website, launching an open data platform and a city finance tracking website, and overhauling a 25-year-old legacy analog phone system.
“My personality is to take an idea, move it through and get it out so it’s valuable,” he said.
But launching projects quickly can mean not getting them perfect in their initial phase. Reichental is a vocal proponent of a “lean startup approach” for some government IT projects. The approach involves releasing beta versions of technology projects to users and incorporating their suggestions.
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.