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California Seeks Input On IT Strategy

The state's CTO has created a crowd-sourcing site and invited the public to weigh in on how it can improve in areas ranging from online services to legacy systems.

How should California modernize its outdated IT systems? State CTO P.K. Agarwal is inviting the public to share their ideas.

California has launched a crowd-sourcing Web site where it's asking the public to weigh in on how it might improve its tech strategy and implementation. State CTO Agarwal created the site after a blog post on TechCrunch by researcher Vivek Wadhwa criticized the state's "antiquated" IT system, spurring an online debate.

Agarwal said via e-mail that he was excited that people had so much interest in California's IT infrastructure and processes."We wanted a way for the IT community to become engaged in this challenge by submitting their ideas, engaging in discussions about other people's ideas, and casting their votes on the best idea," he said.

The idea-solicitation site is just one way the state of California is trying to revamp IT. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week issued an executive order calling for a drastic reduction in the state's data center footprint and energy consumption and requiring all state agencies to appoint CIOs and information security officers.

The state's crowd-sourcing site poses three questions for people to consider. The first asks what new services or improvements can be made to existing online services. The second asks entrepreneurs how they might like to partner with the state to bring about innovation in its IT systems. The third asks how California might modernize its legacy systems.

The site uses IdeaScale, a platform that lets users submit ideas that others can vote on and pushes the most popular ideas to the top of the list. The federal government is using IdeaScale for brainstorming on its open government initiatives.

In less than a week, nearly 500 people have joined the online community and more than 60 ideas have been submitted. The most popular suggestion so far has been implementing electronic invoicing to save time and money. There's also interest in publishing APIs and in moving services to the cloud, Agarwal said.

Agarwal plans to explore top-ranked ideas through an "interactive dialogue" with the online community. The state CIO says he already sees some "real possibilities."

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