Gov’s vision for state’s tech future is Topic A at conference

State government’s technological future takes center stage at an unusual conference called expressly to examine Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vision for the digital age. The participants include the governor and his top technology member of his administration, Chief Information Officer Teri Takai.

The basic question of the gathering is simple: What’s the government doing?

That technology development is critical to the functioning of the government should come as no surprise: The state has invested hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade in technology upgrades and expansion, from software to hardware to network reorganization, and the rapidly changing digital landscape requires more investment to be made. About 8,500 state employees work in information technology.

“We’re very focused on wanting to build more and more services,” Takai said. The administration, she added, “is developing the technology so that citizens and businesses can easily do business with the state. This means moving more and more to Internet-based services. The Department of Motor Vehicles is a perfect example of continuing to grow the number of the number of services that you can do online.”

Takai, along with the governor, will be among those addressing the Government Technology West Conference May 12-16 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Several thousand people are expected to attend the event, which professionals one of the major technology gatherings of the year. The event’s main sponsors include Google, Oracle, Sabot and Samsung, and an array of other sponsors of specific pavilions and events, Accenture, AT&T, Cisco, Deloitte, Hitachi, IBM Symantec, Verizon, HP and others.
Other speakers include Scott McNealy, chairman and co-founder of Sun Microsystems; and Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google; and Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine.

For Takai, the state’s technological challenges are many.

For one thing, much of the existing technology is antiquated, an average of 30 years old. Finding the dollars for new and better technology is hard, especially in a time of tight budgets. Too, the state’s technically experienced employees will be retiring within the next few years, leaving a potential vacuum that must be filled through recruitment and training.

“Our technology is getting pretty old–some of our old technology is between 20 and 40 years old,” Takai said, and the state needs technologies “that lend themselves to linking well to the Internet and to the new ways of doing business.”

The conference also will offer seminars, training and interactive pavilions on the exhibition floor.

Three concurrent seminar tracks “will present useful information on timely topics. These presentations will showcase technology in action in state and local government, as well as leadership and professional development topics relevant to today’s government technology and operations executives. Speakers will include thought leaders from the Center for Digital Government, experts in the field, and CIOs from California and around the nation,” according to the official description of the event.

The seminar tracks will include:
“21st Century Government,” offering “case studies and other presentations that highlight best practices or innovation in technology solutions, technology projects, teams, and purchasing in state and local government.”

“Best Practices and Future Trends,” highlighting “presentations on the most important technology and technology management trends that will affect how government delivers services in the next quarter-century.”

“Technology Upgrade,” including “ practical discussions on current and emerging technologies, and how governments are implementing these technologies in practical solutions.”

The training program will include sessions on procurement, project management, job promotion, new technology, idea development and others.

But the overarching theme of the conference is as much government policy, specifically the governor’s policy, as it is technology.
“Aligned around the Governor’s strategy for California, this specially engineered conference is unlike any other,” the event organizers said.

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