In The Arena

Colorado Senator Ron May

May 26, 2004
Senator Ron May (R)
Colorado State Senator, District 10


WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN TECHNOLOGY AND POLICY?

MAY: I was in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years. When I was a young captain, they sent me to programmer analyst school in 1963. I've been around using, playing with and advocating information technology (IT) ever since.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IN GETTING POLICY-RELATED TECHNOLOGY LEGISLATION PASSED?

MAY: I've been on the Information Management Commission for the state since 1994. We've done all sorts of projects.

WHAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND?

MAY: Everything.

THEN PICK OUT WHAT YOU PERSONALLY LIKE.

MAY: I was the chairman of the Multi-Use Network, which was a public-private partnership with the state of Colorado and U.S. West that became Qwest. We have deployed broadband to every county in the state. We have 75 points of presence (POPs), and there is one in each county, and in some of the larger counties, there is more. We have 64 county seats that have the POP. I think all of the state agencies are also now using it, which is about half the cost of T-1. So we saved a lot of money.

I also worked on procedures for standardization. Under a previous administration everything was decentralized. We had 24 agencies going in their own directions, purchasing their own types of equipment, and procuring their own software -- none of which was standard. No one could talk to the other. We have now consolidated it. We have a procedure and a set of policies and standards that all of the departments have to follow. We also have standardization communicating between state departments.

What really brought that about was that we discovered that we were making unemployment insurance payments to a fellow locked up in prison -- and that is a little embarrassing when you find your communication between your Department of Labor and Department of Corrections isn't present. I think we solved that problem.

My biggest contribution has probably been the legislative information system. We have the best legislative information system in the country.

WHY IS THAT?

MAY: We have term limits in Colorado and I became concerned in 1994 we were going to lose our institutional knowledge. So, we implemented an information system that now has seven years of data contained in it. We have all kinds of information, including a bill tracking system that allows our legislative staff to track bills. Of course, a bill is private until you and the drafter release it to the public. This system keeps it all private and tracked. Once it goes public, it's available to everyone including the public that can dial into the system -- and it's all standardized, including the search engine.

The good news for legislators is that we all have leased laptops. We're on about our ninth year of laptops, which are now wireless. You can walk anywhere in the capitol and use it. I take my laptop to a committee meeting with me where I can look up statutes, track bills, interact with information -- and it's all right there off the T-1 line from anywhere in the building.

HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL STANDARDIZATION IS TO SUCCESSFUL IT PROJECTS IN STATE GOVERNMENT?

MAY: It's extremely important if you're going to communicate between agencies. You have to have policies and standards to follow. We did some consolidation of procurement. Agencies use to procure on their own, and now we've consolidated procurement so we get the benefit of buying in bulk. So, the policies and standards are really important for communicating, saving money, training and more. You have to have them.

HOW HAVE YOU GONE ABOUT SMOOTHING RELATIONSHIPS TO GET EVERYBODY ON BOARD WITH STANDARDIZATION?

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