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County reorganization is a winner!

Bob Kelly and Eric Benson 

Leonardtown MD - Bob Kelly, the chief information officer (CIO) for St. Mary's County Government, along with Eric Benson who is the Geographical Information System (GIS) supervisor working under Kelly, briefed the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Tuesday, July 10 at the BOCC's regular business meeting.

Collecting and converting (scanned documents to digital) data from the single databases maintained by multiple agencies, such as Public Works, Soil Conservation, the Department of Health, METCOM, Land Use and Growth Management and many other sources, including the state is a daunting task. It is one that  Kelly and Benson have made tremendous strides in streamlining such that a portal found at click here on the county's web site.

The portal is completely inter-operable with any platform, be it android, IOS or Windows. As Kelly stated in his brief today this capability is Citizen Centric and Data driven. "Our goal is not just to streamline processes" said Kelly after the briefing, "but it is to bring technology solutions to the table enabling the Department Directors and leadership to work in cross domain ways." Kelly and his team meet bi-weekly with all of the Directors to get inputs and discuss issues and ideas. These meetings are chaired by County Administrator Dr. Rebecca B. Bridgett. The output is picked up by Benson and his two-person team to incorporate and  develop, moving towards the goal of creating at least a 95 percent accurate holistic common operating system to bring efficiencies  to the county and a user friendly experience for all citizens. By opening a map and entering an address all pertinent information related to that property can be viewed. The Department of Land Use and Growth Management, for example, can offer this capability for individuals who wish to track their permit applications. It identifies flood zones, where water and sewer infrastructure is in place and a myriad of other relevant information. This data used to exist in silos and navigating through the bureaucracy, a nightmare to some.

This teamwork and collaboration, stems from a reorganization last year whereby the BOCC separated the Emergency Management Services, now under Director Steve Walker and moved IT under a chief information officer.  

Problems associated with disparate data sources are manifold. Is the data accurate? Is it from an authoritative source? Can it be seen in real time? What is its pedigree? These data issues have plagued the Department of Defense for years and it was not until 2005 that "data on demand as a service" really came into being. Under a program named Acquisition Visibility, the leadership and analysts in the pentagon can see the status of all Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPS) in real time. That is a $1.3 trillion portfolio.

The establishment of a CIO at the county has clearly had a significant impact on efficiencies within county government. For a copy of the brief click here

Contact Martin Fairclough at m.fairclough@thebaynet.com

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