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Executive Summary

Coordinated state-local information systems offer the hope of integrated services to citizens and streamlined operations within government. Many government and professional organizations are searching for ways to make these essential systems more successful. But, there is very little reliable information about what makes state-local projects succeed or fail. This study, sponsored by the New York State Governor’s Task Force on Information Resource Management (now the NYS Office for Technology), is one of the first attempts in the US to analyze and document practices that lead to success.

The objective of this project was to identify and document the practices associated with successful state-local information systems by studying the experiences of eleven existing initiatives in New York State:

  • Aging Network Client Based Service Management System Project
  • Electronic Filing of Local Government Annual Financial Reports
  • Electronic Death Certificate Project
  • Electronic Transfer of Dog License Data
  • Hunting and Fishing Licenses
  • Immunization Information Systems Project
  • Probation Automation Project
  • Real Property System Version 4
  • Local Social Services District Imaging Project
  • Electronic Voter Registration

Information needed to support the project objective was gathered in four ways: a literature and current practice review, an effort to describe the eleven participating projects in a standard way, a survey of both state and local participants in each project, and focus group interviews with the project teams. The Task Force established a Special Work Group on State-Local Information Systems to serve as both a planning and advisory body.

The main deliverable of the project is a handbook of best practices called Tying a Sensible Knot: A Practical Guide to State-Local Information Systems which presents a variety of practices that project managers and participants can use to develop successful state-local information systems. However, the project also uncovered issues that constrain success, but that cannot be addressed by single project teams acting on their own. These constraints are the result of environmental factors that combine to reduce the effectiveness and increase the cost of all state-local systems. This final project report discusses these systemic constraints on effective systems and offers three sets of recommendations for mitigating their effects.