The early years - 1976 to 1978
The original idea to form a technology association is most often credited to Edward Pike, the former IT Manger for the City of Gainesville. He contacted several other technology professionals that he had met at other conferences including Scott Ewing, former IT Manager for the Polk County Clerk of Court, William McCall, former IT Manager for the City of Clearwater and Jim Crutcher also from Gainesville and asked if they would like to meet on a regular basis to discuss common needs, issues and solutions. As they found value in these discussions and associations, other local government representatives joined them and they grew in numbers. They continued to meet informally at various locations mostly throughout the central part of the state during 1976 and 1977. Meetings were mostly at a city hall or other government buildings where space could be found. Then in 1978 they decided to formalize the organization into a technology association.
On the 24th of August 1978, the first Articles of Incorporation for the “Local Government Data Processing Association, Inc.” was signed and on September 26, 1978 officially filed with the Florida Department of State, Corporations Division. This was a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation.
taking shape - 1978 to 1990
FLGISA continued to grow from its formation. As “data processing” become more and more critical to supporting local government operations, there was more of an interest in sharing knowledge, concerns and information. In the beginning, most of the meetings were roundtable type discussions relating to the issue of the day and sharing of possible solutions. As time progressed the membership would provide presentations on specific topics usually relating to a project or specific implementation of software or hardware in their jurisdiction. This evolved into inviting vendors that had provided specific solutions for jurisdictions to present the solution and talk about their newest hardware or software. IBM was a key player during this era with their System 34/36 platform using RPG software which many of the jurisdictions utilized. These meetings or conferences were being held on a quarterly basis, later moving to three times per year. In 1979 the FLGISA decided to have an “Annual Conference” in the summer. It was decided that this would be a good place for vendors to showcase their newest hardware and software and provide a forum for more formal training. They would still keep the other two meetings for the year as “roundtables.”
forming and storming - 1990 to 2000
In the early 90’s the organization was flourishing with membership increasing. In June of 1991, it was decided that the organization would change its name to include “Florida”, so the organization changed from the “Local Government Data Processing Association” to the “Florida Local Government Data Processing Association.”
Further, in the late 80’s and early 90’s there was growing discontent with the Association’s name. Many felt that the words “Data Processing” were too old fashioned and that a new name needed to be developed. In 1991, the Association agreed to change the organization name to the “Florida Local Government Information Systems Association.” It was decided that the organization would remain “true to its roots” of being a local government technology organization and that having private entities as members would “diminish the value of the organization.” The name was changed on June 1, 1991.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. Through cooperative efforts of FLGISA members and the relationships they had built, many local governments not affected by the storms assisted those who were severely affected by the storm with technical personnel such as network administrators, programmers, computer operators and with physical hardware and software.
As FLGISA continued to grow, another key element was that the organization was beginning to engage heavily with legislative issues at the state level. The main legislative issue that was arising at the time related to public records.
Local governments were creating software and gathering lots of data, which private entities would request under the public records laws. These private entities would then use this software and/or data to generate a profit. Many members felt that local governments should have the right to recoup their cost of development and data gathering when the requestor would use this material to make a profit.
During the mid-1990’s the Association become highly active in legislative issues. FLGISA proposed two bills to the legislature. One to provide an exemption to public records that would allow software to be copyrighted and the other to allow the copyrighting of data to ensure local governments were paid for their development and data collection costs. The Association testified at many committee meetings and hearings. Three key individuals spent a great deal of time championing these efforts, mainly because their jurisdictions were willing to support their efforts; Allan Rutherford, City of Miami; Al Leiser, Pinellas County and Frank Hagy, City of Orlando. The result was the passage of a bill to allow copyrighting of software by local governments. The copyrighting of data failed.
From about 1995 to 1999 the Association saw great decline in participation and membership. It’s not quite understood why. Perhaps Hurricane Andrew‘s devastating the southeast coast of Florida had an effect on many of those local governments struggling to recover. Many of the “old guard” leadership that had been so active in the 80’s and 90’s either left local government, retired and few even passed away. Membership and activity began to rebound around 1999 and has continued to improve ever since.
on the move - 2000 and beyond
On May 5, 2000, FLGISA first contracted the Florida League of Cities, Inc. to provide administrative support to the Association. This freed up the Board of Directors to concentrate on improving membership in the organization and its value to the technology community at large. In 2003 a large campaign was launched to gain membership with great results.
In the mid-2000’s an effort for recognizing the CIO profession and the work done by CIO’s was put into motion. In 2004, FLGISA worked with the Institute of Government to establish an educational program that would result in the certification of Chief Information Officers for local government services. Further in 2006, the FLGISA instituted the President’s Award, later renamed to the Technology Achievement Award to recognize outstanding projects implemented by local government IT departments from around the state.
In 2008 FLGISA membership topped 189 members but with the decline of the economy membership fell for the first time since 2003. As a result of a strong marketing campaign and the leadership of the board, in 2014 membership is now above 200 for the first time in Association history.