Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue


Governor Leavitt was an early visionary of the technology revolution. He foresaw the power of information technology in re-shaping how government operated. But more importantly he realized how IT could be used as a tool to create new and better relationships with its citizens. Information technology not only promised greater efficiency at a lower cost but also paved the way for government to remake itself into something quite different — a government that was less stodgy and bureaucratic, one that cut “red tape” and changed archaic processes thus enabling innovation to flower. Citizens and agencies were encouraged to be “online” not “in line.” In 1993 Leavitt set forth this early vision in what came to be known as his “Electronic Highway” address. The address outlined several key challenges: Change the way we think. To take advantage of new technologies we must discover new ways of doing things; Focus on using technology as opposed to “bricks and mortar;” Develop a strategy for electronic government service delivery and then deploy it; Make public government information and data easily accessible to citizens; Encourage private sector competition and participation in “building out” the infrastructure for the “electronic highway .” (COOPERATION CALLED KEY TO ELECTRONIC (more…)


Address to the Electronic Highway Summit

November 8, 1993 Governor Michael O. Leavitt In my inaugural address 10 months ago, I pledged to lead this state to a whole new level of performance. We have a great opportunity to achieve a new level of performance in the area of information technology. Today, I am calling on all of you, as state leaders and information technology managers, to help in this effort.  In that inaugural address, I told a story about driving from Cedar City to Salt Lake City in the 1950s. It was a much longer adventure than it is today.  I used to marvel at the vision of the leaders of that day who saw the need and established a national goal to build an interstate freeway system before traffic became a crisis. It was controversial, but some could feel the excitement of such a daring undertaking. People in the towns throughout rural Utah were concerned about being bypassed by the freeway.  And patterns did change. Some areas were left out; others emerged stronger, taking advantage of the increased traffic and inherent flow of dollars. I described how in this era a new and different type highway must be built. This electronic highway will be (more…)


Lessons Learned

Information technology projects too often can be fraught with pitfalls, lost directions and missed opportunities. Yet if tackled with a systematic mindset and a positive “can do” attitude successful technology enabled delivery of government information and services can yield results that create better and more efficient ways of doing the government’s business. This ultimately can lead to a better engagement or re-engagement with citizens. Implementing an information technology project provides a context by which government can attempt to do a new thing or to do an old thing in a new and better way.  “Better” is usually defined as doing something more efficiently or at a higher level of quality. Breakthroughs in government processes from either an efficiency or quality standpoint are referred to as “innovations.” An innovation must first be envisioned, but envisioning an innovation is only the first in a series of complex steps along the pathway to an IT deployment.  A vision that is not executed is only a dream.  It is Easier to Block Innovation Than to Implement it but Strong Teams Can Overcome Resistance To bring a project from the idea phase to the product phase requires a vast array of distinct skills. These skills (more…)



Technology: A Hallmark of the Leavitt Administration 1993-2003 In 1993, Governor Leavitt delivered a speech that is now known as his “Electronic Highway” address.  During the speech, the Governor called for: Building a high-speed digital electronic highway as the life-blood of Utah’s “high-paying, high-tech enterprises of the future.” Putting government services online electronically Expansion of the State’s wide area network (WAN) and the use of email and electronic calendaring Calling for employee telecommuting Committing the state to greater use of the Internet, videoconferencing and wireless technologies Ten years later, Utah has established itself as a leader in many of these areas. Citizens have 24×7 access to government services Over the past ten years, Utah has made consistent progress in the delivery of online services and information to its citizens. While Utah’s website was rated second nationally as early as 1996, it continues to be a leader in 2003, becoming the first state portal to roll out 24×7 live help this year along with a new portal to serve Utah business (Utah’s Website http://www.utah.gov/index.html). Examples of Utah’s Online Services http://www.utah.gov/services/citizen.html Vehicle License Renewal Drivers License Renewal Online Tax Payments Campground Reservation Primary Care Network Aircraft Registration Hunting & Fishing Licenses Impounded (more…)



In a few decades computer and telecommunication technologies evolved from a few very large number crunching calculators connected through several universities to mission critical circuitry embedded in the fundamental economic and social fabric of society. What started at the beginning of one decade as novel new equipment designed to run early government financial and case management systems evolved in the next into customer facing Internet-enabled government service delivery. Still, how quickly and effectively government took advantage of and adopted these new technologies varied greatly across states and local governments. This variation was primarily distinguished by leadership that saw vast new opportunities and sought to leverage them and those that did not. Effectively using the power of information technology in government requires both visioning and superior execution of that vision. But to more fully understand the evolution of IT one also must talk about the ends toward which information technology strives. IT has always been about improving the “how” of government through improving productivity and efficiency. But to view IT from this prospective alone is short sighted.  The late 1990’s saw an increase in the creation of Chief Information Officers (CIOs).  In Utah the first CIO was hired in 1997. This (more…)


Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service