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October 7, 2015

Tampa Bay Technology Forum awards

IT Accolades

Art Levy | 1/1/2010
When Staci Cross was hired as Bradenton’s director of technology in 2001, her mandate quickly became clear: Change everything. Most of the city’s employees didn’t even have a computer, and the city’s mainframe computers were using 15-year-old applications.

Rodney Barreto
Staci Cross? [Photo: Mark Wemple]
“I had to put together a strategy,” Cross says. “Within five years, we had ripped everything out and put in everything new. Now, everybody has a computer. Before, they didn’t care if the system went down. Now, they absolutely need it every day.”

Those were boom years for her department. Her budget swelled to nearly $3 million and her staff to eight. Today, her staff is down to five, her budget to $750,000, and much of the equipment she put into place five or more years ago is becoming obsolete — with no money in the budget to replace it.

Enter outsourcing. When the city’s e-mail server needed upgrading last year, Cross didn’t have the money to buy a new one, so she found a vendor to host the system. “The vendor has to worry about backups and data growth and upgrades to the server and software and disaster recovery,” she says. “And I pay a bill every month. It’s much cheaper than what it would cost to buy the equipment and support it.”

Cross has also outsourced the city’s data backup system. Next in line is document management, with more outsourced functions to come. Other public sector CIOs are watching her strategy: After giving a talk last summer to a gathering of the Florida Local Government Information Systems Association, she has been getting several calls a month asking for more information. “Working for government makes you creative,” she says. “Working for government in this environment makes you smarter.”

High Achievers

The Tampa Bay Technology Forum recently announced its 2009 Industry Achievement Awards:

> CIO of the Year: Staci Cross, director of technology, city of Bradenton

> Emerging Technology Company of the Year: Jagged Peak, Tampa

> Innovation of the Year: Syniverse Technologies, Tampa

> Professional Services Company of the Year: STAR Technology Enterprise Center, Largo

> Quantum Leap Technology of the Year: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tampa

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