• United States

Georgia plans work-at-home push

Dec 30, 20023 mins

Governor-elect Perdue touts telework and ubiquitous broadband as key to state’s revitalization

Overnight, the election of Sonny Perdue has made Georgia the state to watch for telework. In his bid for governor, Perdue promised to make high-speed Internet access ubiquitous statewide, reduce traffic by making telework standard practice, and give families more time at home as “life is re-centered on the home and not the workplace.” But since incumbent Roy Barnes held a firm lead up until election day, and Georgians hadn’t sent a Republican to the governor’s mansion in more than a century, few paid much attention.

Perdue’s ascent from long shot to governor-elect is good news for Georgia telework proponents like Michael Dziak, a veteran educator and consultant, and director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Telework Association and Council. While Dziak says it’s still too early for details on Perdue’s plans, the governor will likely try a mix of employer and worker incentives. Once Perdue names a state senator to head up the telework project, Dziak expects he and colleagues will be called in to provide education and training.

When Dziak heard that Perdue plans to run his administration based on the principles of Stephen R. Covey’s book, “Principle-Centered Leadership,” he immediately bought a copy. “It’s amazing how similar the principles of telework are to those in the book. Organizations should be people- and goals-oriented, not profit-oriented. Leadership should be based on trust and honesty and integrity, and focus on output. Management should be hierarchical. High-level goals should be set, then everything trickles down from that,” Dziak says.

Both Perdue and his predecessor understand the importance of an ambitious broadband strategy to Georgia’s revitalization. Barnes’ plan, however, focused on improving economic development, education and remote work learning only. Perdue adds telework to the mix, pushing ubiquitous high-speed access as a fix for everything from metropolitan traffic congestion to ailing family values.

A year ago, the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) published a request for proposal from telecommunications vendors for the multibillion-dollar project, which would outsource all the state’s telecommunications needs to a single vendor. Dubbed the Converged Communications Outsourcing Project, bids on the project were made, but the process was halted last summer when a principle bidder, WorldCom, imploded. Since then, Perdue was elected, and Larry Singer, the GTA’s CIO and executive director, resigned.

Today, the process is back on track. Perdue named Tom Wade interim executive director, and two vendors are in the running: EnvisionGeorgia, with IBM as the prime vendor in conjunction with Sprint, Resource Network International and Enterasys; and ConnectGeorgia, a team comprising Bell South, AT&T, Electronic Data Systems and its subcontractors. The contract winner will supply long-distance and wireless phone services, high-speed Internet service, LANs and computer services for state and local government agencies, including schools, libraries, and city and county offices. The GTA plans to award the 10-year contract in April 2003.