PUBLIC OFFICIALS of the YEAR

Steve Fletcher 2010 HONOREE

Chief Information Officer, State of Utah

State of Utah Chief Information Officer Steve FletcherRead more of the extended Q&A with Steve Fletcher.

Thanks to CIO Steve Fletcher, Utah state government is still open on Fridays. Yes, that's a bit of an overstatement. But in a cost-cutting move two years ago, then-Gov. Jon Huntsman implemented a four-day workweek for state employees, leaving most offices open only Monday through Thursday. It was up to the CIO to fill the gap.

Fletcher swallowed hard when the governor asked if the state's website was ready to replace physical service counters. "We were in a Cabinet meeting and he said, 'Can we do this?' He's looking at me, and if I commit to it, then I have to deliver," Fletcher says. "It was the coolest thing in the world -- and it was a little scary. Luckily we could say yes."

Huntsman named Fletcher CIO in 2005, arming him with legislation to consolidate Utah's disjointed computing facilities and reorganize the state IT workforce. Over the next two years, Fletcher brought 1,000 workers under direct control of the CIO's office, reduced staff head count by 20 percent, cut the number of servers from 1,900 to fewer than 500, all of which were upgraded. Performance improved even as costs dropped.

By the time Huntsman asked if e-government could replace brick and mortar on Fridays, Fletcher's office was offering 850 services through Utah's web portal. "We could do that because we had created a flexible and motivated organization -- and we knew our population wanted electronic services," Fletcher says. "If we couldn't provide those services, the plan would have failed miserably."

Instead, the plan commenced in August 2008 with relatively little public grousing. Utah officials credited the shortened workweek with cutting energy consumption for the state and its car-commuting employees. And it's become a powerful recruiting tool, Fletcher says. "I'm generally competitive for IT talent, but I can't always pay like the private sector. Instead, I give them a chance to work on great technology and a have three-day weekends."

— Steve Towns
Photo by M. Bryan Thompson