McQuillan Is IT

December 18, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Tom McQuillan has quietly directed the information technology operations at the city for 24 years.

But the state recently brought McQuillan out of the shadows and put the unassuming director into the spotlight by honoring him with a Michigan Excellence in Technology Leadership Award for his lifelong contributions to the public IT field.

McQuillan received his award at the Fourth Annual Michigan Government Digital Summit, an event held by the Michigan Department of Information Technology.

"I think it was Al Gore who actually helped Tom create the department," joked Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell about McQuillan's longevity at the post.

City Manager Kurt Kimball praised McQuillan for his dedication to the post and the city.

"He is constantly assessing the needs and requirements of the city and has always demonstrated a commitment and dedication to evolving the department's services and support to keep pace," said Kimball.

Kimball said McQuillan implemented the city's business-continuity planning and installed the city's centralized e-mail and calendar system in 1986. He credited McQuillan with being fiscally responsible in directing the department and for making customer service his personal mission.

"He has continued to bring innovation and flexibility to the city's IT operations. He has been responsible for directing the city in several technology transformations over this time frame," he said.

McQuillan has seen the city's IT operation evolve from punch cards to dumb terminals to mainframe centric systems to the decentralized Web environment that the department currently uses. McQuillan probably has a handle on what the city's next virtual frontier will be and he surely wants his staff, who he credited for the award, to make the next trek with him.

"I think most people believe that city directors take credit for everything that goes right and blame staff for everything that goes wrong," said McQuillan with a wink before turning serious. "But not in IT."

The Kent County IT Department was also honored at the digital summit. The state gave Director Craig Paull and his staff a Best Application of Business Needs award for the county's accounts payable system.   

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