Counties Make The Case For Funding IT


Ben Birge, CountyStat Manager for Prince George’s engages attendees in prioritizing IT

Good governance requires good technology. Powerful databases, analytical instruments, geographic systems, and public portals can all improve customer service and accountability — but invariably come at a cost, and technology maintenance is not always an easy sell in the budgeting process. At the MACo Summer Conference session, “Live Long and Prosper: Maintaining and Funding Modern Technology,” county tech experts emphasized the importance of prioritizing and managing investments in technology.

Jim McCormick, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Caroline County discussed making the pitch for information technology to managers and elected officials by showing them how it proactively serves taxpayers, rather than just telling them. McCormick has consulted for NGOs and OGAs in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. In 1998, he designed and built the first 100 percent county-owned fiber optic infrastructure on the Eastern seaboard to support county departments and associated county, State and Federal applications. It was designed with extra conduit capacity which proved instrumental in extending broadband access to the Mid-Shore of Maryland as part of the NetworkMD and Maryland Broadband Cooperative infrastructure.

Prince George’s CountyStat Manager Ben Birge highlighted how the County’s well-designed 311 system elevates its customer service to the next level. CountyStat is responsible for providing analysis and oversight to ensure County services are operating in an efficient, productive and cost-effective manner, and for the performance data analysis in support of the operating budget. Prior to managing CountyStat, Birge served as deputy director for the County’s Office of Management and Budget.

James Ewing, Account Manager with Presidio Networked Solutions rounded out the panel by recommending that county leadership elevate IT professionals by bringing them to the table with decision-makers, budget officials and high-level administrators early on, rather than leaving them behind the scenes. Ewing has more than 20 years of experience helping organizations identify, adopt and manage complex IT solutions across the globe.

“Live Long and Prosper: Maintaining and Funding Modern Technology” took place at MACo’s Summer Conference on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm. Delegate Tawanna Gaines moderated the panel and engaged attendees in the lively discussion.