CIO Uses Her Skills in Service to State of Delaware

Some may say that Suzanne Peck, CIO of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, is crazy for working 18-hour days. But that's the way she likes it: "I'm a high-energy person who is actually less happy when I'm not busy," she says. So Peck, a native Delawarian, volunteered to spend two days a week leading a pro-bono review of the state's government to identify cost-savings and alleviate its $350 million deficit.

The project is familiar territory: Peck led a similar, free review of Pennsylvania's government services six years ago, which resulted in $1.2 billion in recoverable expenses.

"The review that I ran was very successful, and because of that, [Delaware] Governor Jack Markell asked me to do the same in his state," she says. Still feeling a strong bond with the state, with the state Peck was elated to help.

As the review's program director, Peck was tasked with leading a team of 80 volunteers -- which included state employees and loaned executives from local companies -- in examining all government services to identify savings or alternate revenues that could help balance the state's budget in 2010. This involved reengineering services to be more cost-efficient, examining historic patterns of management and service delivery, identifying effective business processes and redesigning agencies, programs and resources.

The final report that Peck and her team are generating will contain recommendations and legislative requests for the governor to consider. "We're basically looking at all the core services that Delawarians receive, which ones the state can and can't afford, and which are provided efficiently and not so efficiently," she says. "We're also looking to determine where we can use technology more extensively and more appropriately."

Peck, who has held top IT positions with Sallie Mae and the District of Columbia, says the project is nearing completion, and Markell expects the savings will be substantial. In leading these reviews, she strikes a balance between her business and IT knowledge: "I never look at myself as a technologist only," she says. "The same is true with this performance review: We're running it as business professionals, but I just happen to have a special expertise in technology."

Without Peck and others working pro-bono, the review's price tag would be $750,000-a tough bill for the state to foot. "We're getting access to a world-class mind on a volunteer basis, which when you're dealing with a budget shortfall as profound as ours, is pretty significant," says Markell. "We're fortunate to have her; she's got such a driving personality to get stuff done."

Associate Editor Kristin Burnham can be reached at kburnham@cio.com.

Do you Tweet? Follow me on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO Magazine @CIOMagazine.

This story, "CIO Uses Her Skills in Service to State of Delaware" was originally published by CIO.

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