New Canaan’s Technology Advisory Committee, created by Board of Selectmen in February to identify and recommend technologies that would help town government run more efficiently, held its inaugural meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall to elect officers, discuss the status of information technology in the town and identify initial areas of focus.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan attended the meeting to facilitate the nominations for the committee’s chairman and secretary. The committee unanimously nominated and approved Randy Dalia, who previously served as vice president at IBM, as chairman and Paul Pureka, who previously served as regional manager for information systems at Citibank in London and Puerto Rico, as secretary.
The remaining members of the committee are Mike Abbott, digital lead, Accenture Financial Services; Annamari Mikkola, freelance art director and producer; and Jeff Platt, vice president of global marketing at MasterCard.
Following a brief discussion of the meeting schedule, Christopher Kaiser, the town’s director of information technology, shared the results of a survey taken of managers within municipal government about their current technological use and future needs. He said that there are “very small things” that the committee could do to make a difference, but the challenges mainly lied in the managers not knowing enough about certain technological features, such as remote access and fillable forms, to utilize them properly. And for others, money was also a concern.
“My belief is that if [the managers] feel constricted to a budget, they’re not going to ask for something that they’re not comfortable using,” Kaiser said. “So, if we said, ‘Oh, let’s try this tool they’re using in Norwalk’ and it’s $30,000 to purchase and implement it, they not even going to consider that because they were told they couldn’t go above a certain number.”
The committee also discussed how to possibly reduce an annual $100,000 payment made by the Recreation Department on processing fees for credit card payments—an issue that was a priority for the Board of Selectmen when the committee’s formation was being discussed.
“We have to look at all of the opportunities out there to collect what we collect each day, but perhaps more efficiently,” Dalia said.
The committee also discussed expanding the town’s social media presence, municipal best practices, using technology to improve parking in town and technology training for government employees.
At the close of the meeting, each committee member agreed to take on a specific area in which to focus their efforts: Mikkola will oversee social media strategy and town Web site presentation, Platt and Pureka will oversee processing; Abbott will oversee digital strategy, and Dalia will oversee municipal best practices.
The committee is scheduled to regularly meet every first Tuesday of each month, although July’s meeting has been changed to Thursday, July 24.