Cross-jurisdictional collaboration on the rise


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One of the biggest trends right now in state and local government is cross-jurisdictional collaboration where states, counties and municipalities in close proximity are teaming together to purchase information technology goods and services.

That was the case recently in Omaha, Neb., where Derek Kruse, chief information officer of the Douglas Omaha Technology Commission, said the city and county teamed together to purchase Google Apps for Government.

“We started out this process to fix our aged email system,” Kruse wrote on Google’s Enterprise blog. “We have discovered this is much more than a fix – this is the future – and another big step in the ongoing collaboration between Omaha and Douglas County.”

Mike Teller, the CIO of Idaho’s Tax Commission, told StateScoop something similar in a recent interview. He said the state of Idaho, Ida County and the state capital of Boise, which is seated in Ida County, are teaming together on a number of projects and is something he expects will only continue.

“It only makes sense for this type of collaboration,” Teller said. “It will reach a point where the financial benefits will become so strong that it will stop all the politics that surround these types of deals.”

Perhaps the poster child is in Minnesota where for the past 41 years, the Local Government Information System consortium has been able to procure information systems for more than 45 towns, after starting with just seven at its founding in 1972.

“Cross-jurisdictional collaboratives will surely increase at all levels ?of government,” NASCIO wrote in a June paper on the subject. “One consistently necessary ingredient for effective collaboration is effective governance which establishes decision rights and representation of members and constituents.”

The same is happening on a state-to-state level. Kristin Russell, the CIO of Colorado, is working with CIOs from Wyoming, Arizona and North Dakota as part of the WyCAN Consortium that is building a cloud-based system for state unemployment insurance claims using a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Russell, a former executive at Oracle, said this kind of collaboration is what can change the ways state governments function.

“We’re not looking at this as being for just our four states, but something that could roll out to all 50 states,” Russell told StateScoop earlier this year. “There is an opportunity to do more projects like this that can both be respectful of taxpayer dollars and get us the technologies we need.”

For Omaha and Douglas County it was simply finding a way to replace a system that is more than 10 years old and did not feature any modern tools. To do so, Omaha and Douglas County went with SADA Systems, a Google Apps Premier Enterprise Reseller, to help with the transition and serve as the deployment partner.

“We will offer a more secure, stable, modern and scalable cloud solution to the City and County,” Kruse wrote. “Employees will now be able to communicate instantly and work collaboratively online, even if they are miles apart. Mailbox size alone has people cheering — one of our employees made the comparison that we will be moving from a shot glass to a swimming pool!”

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Cloud Computing, Derek Kruse, Google Apps for Government, Kristin Russell, Mike Teller, State & Local News, Tech News