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2004 Innovators & Influencers: Bearing Down On The Future

It's sure to be a year of change in business technology. Here are some of the people who will drive that change.
State CIO's Balanced Outlook
Gerry Wethington has more than enough work to keep him busy as Missouri's CIO. But the 51-year-old career civil servant spends nearly half again as much time on extracurricular professional activities. Wethington is well known in government IT circles as president of the National Association of State CIOs; chairman of Search, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, a state-run group that studies how IT can improve the criminal-justice system; and vice chairman of the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative Advisory Committee, which counsels the U.S. attorney general.

The time spent away from Jefferson City on these other projects benefits Missouri, Wethington says, because he gains knowledge and makes connections. "CIOs need to be engaged in some external activities because there aren't many experts in your own backyard."


Gerry Wethington -- Photo by James Visser/Getty

ALWAYS WORKING
Enterprise architecture is never finished, notes Wethington, Missouri's CIO.

Photo of Gerry Wethington by James Visser/Getty
As NASCIO's president, he's leading the effort to transform the group from primarily being a conference sponsor into one that creates products that help government organizations get IT jobs done. Wethington is NASCIO's first two-term president and, since he took over as head of the group last year, the association has unveiled or updated a dozen products, including publications, templates, CDs, DVDs, and videos.

The latest NASCIO product is the Enterprise Architecture Maturity Model, a program that lets states change and manage the complexities inherent in a large government enterprise. An enterprise architecture toolkit and videos to help CIOs explain the value of enterprise architecture to government leaders also are available.

Wethington zealously pushes the enterprise-architecture effort as part of a strong belief in simpler government. "Why should we ask citizens for the same information 15 times?" he asks. "Why should we expect citizens to be comfortable with that environment? We need to look at duplication and reduce that. There's only one way I'm aware of doing that: enterprise architecture."

Missouri, where he's been CIO for more than three years, is on the third release of its enterprise-architecture plan, but it will be years before the state will fully realize its potential. "Enterprise architecture is never done," Wethington says. "We're not there yet, but we're making good progress."

Wethington's other great interest is in public safety and the criminal-justice system. That dates back to when as a high-school junior in Wentzville, Mo., a community of 6,900, Wethington attended a mock-government program, called Boys State, where he took on the role of a highway patrolman. Five years later, after graduating from Westminster College with a business and economics degree, the Missouri Highway Patrol recruited him for its data-processing department. Two days later, AT&T offered him a job at 50% higher salary, which he turned down because he felt honor bound to the highway patrol.

Wethington stayed there 25 years, eventually becoming director of the IS division. Among his last acts before leaving for the state CIO job was to buy notebook PCs for patrol cars. Says Wethington: "Putting technology in the field, in the hands of officers to improve their safety, makes you feel that you made a difference."

-- Eric Chabrow