Mike Hale, Former CIO for Georgia
& Florida Brings His Business & Technology Know-how to MSC's
Institute for Information Management
By Sheron Smith
Mike Hale's life might be radically different today were it not
for a visit by a West Point football coach.
Mike Hale, right, talks with MSC
President David A. Bell. Hale is the new Institute for Information
Preparing to graduate from a Miami high school, Hale had accepted
a scholarship to play football at Georgia Tech. The West Point coach
offered him a more lucrative scholarship to play for Army and told
Hale that the military would open many doors for him.
An Army career seemed an odd choice for a young man whose father,
John Hale, made a living in show business, first as an opera singer
in Europe and later as a supper club and vaudeville performer in
the U.S. But Hale liked what he heard and ended up playing end for
Army under the legendary coach Red Blake. An injury ended Hale's
playing days at the end of his sophomore year, but his West Point
education - a bachelor of science in engineering - and subsequent
military service presented him with numerous opportunities, just
like the coach had promised.
"During a tour with the Army General Staff at the Pentagon,
I gained experience using computer systems to manage various complex
military programs," Hale said. "I began to see how technology
could be used to help make critical decisions."
Carrying that experience into his civilian life, Hale over time
became one of the nation's most experienced chief information officers;
that is, executives who use technology to solve problems and create
opportunities for businesses and other organizations.
Now, Hale has brought that expertise to Macon State College as
the director of the Institute for Information Management. The Institute
offers education and professional development opportunities to business,
industry and government so they can take full advantage of technological
"Mike's expertise and knowledge are a perfect match for the
work of the Institute," said Macon State President David A.
Bell. "He knows how to manage major technology projects, which
means he is going to be a tremendous asset to the technology community,
as well as the college."
With extensive CIO experience in both the public and private sectors,
Hale does seem perfectly suited to guide Macon State's 3-year-old
Institute to a new level. He will focus much of his attention as
Institute director on Houston County, where Robins Air Force Base
and the related defense industries represent endless opportunities
for partnerships with Macon State.
"The Institute's potential in this region is enormous,"
Hale said. "I think I can help the college extend IT outreach
programs to businesses and government because I understand what
both have to go through when trying to manage technology."
Building a Career
The Mike Hale File
Born: In Detroit, reared in
Education: M.S., business administration, Boston University;
M.S., physics, University of Virginia; B.S., engineering,
United States Military Academy, West Point.
Career Highlights: Officer, U.S. Army, 1961-1982,
retired at rank of colonel. Military awards and decorations
include the Legion of Merit, 21 air medals, three Bronze Stars
and the Combat Infantryman's badge. Deputy secretary for Workers
Compensation and later executive director, Information Resource
Commission, State of Florida, 1982-1995. CIO, State of Georgia,
1995-2000. Private industry CIO, 2000-2001.
Family: Wife, Rita Garnett Hale, most recently a staff
assistant to Georgia Rep. Kathy Ashe, D-Buckhead; daughter,
Kim Andreaus, an adjunct professor in Raleigh, N.C.; and sons
Mike Hale Jr., an Atlanta attorney, and Tony Hale, a professional
actor in New York City.
Personal interests: church involvement, golf, reading
He said it: "The Institute's goal is to help
grow the region as a technology hub, with all the benefits
and opportunities that go along with that."
After graduating from West Point in 1961, Hale was commissioned
as a second lieutenant. By then married to his high school sweetheart,
Florida State University graduate Rita Garnett, Hale served as an
infantry officer in Vietnam and later taught atomic and nuclear
physics at West Point as an associate professor.
As battalion commander in Berlin in the mid-1970s, Hale was charged
with combat readiness and occupation operations within the American
sector of the city. Later assigned to the Pentagon, Hale was special
assistant to the comptroller of the Army, serving as coordinator
for such programs as productivity improvement, management analysis
and a fraud, waste and abuse reduction initiative.
Throughout his 21-year military career, Hale carved out a specialty
in operations research and systems analysis. He also picked up two
master's degrees, one in physics from the University of Virginia,
the other in business administration from Boston University.
In 1982, after retiring from the Army at the rank of colonel, Hale
returned his family (he and his wife have three now-grown children)
to Florida, one of the first states to recognize the importance
of managing the use of technology in government operations. Florida
established the Information Resource Commission and Hale became
its first executive director, recommending state policy and overseeing
standards in such areas as software development, computer security
and strategic planning.
His work in Florida was recognized by City & State magazine,
which selected Hale as one of seven "Most Valuable Public Officials"
for 1991. The magazine reported that Hale "changed information
resources from a department that merely buys computers to one that
shapes public policy in coordination with the governor's office
and the Legislature - a working partnership unduplicated in any
other state in the country."
In 1995, Georgia conducted a national search for a CIO to plan,
make policy for and oversee state information systems. The job went
to Hale, who immediately went to work preparing the state for Y2K.
It was a daunting task. Georgia had antiquated information systems
handling virtually all crucial tasks, including the collection and
processing of tax revenue.
"The state was very vulnerable to Y2K," Hale said. "There
were 150 mission-critical systems that had to be remediated. We
made a decision not to just fix old systems but rather invest in
modern systems and infrastructure, and I credit both (former Gov.)
Zell Miller and Gov. Roy Barnes for their leadership in that area."
The successful Hale-led modernization of Georgia's major systems
earned the state recognition by three institutions - the Freedom
Foundation and Digital State and Government Technology magazines
- as being first in the nation in e-commerce and first in use of
technology related to public safety.
After 17 years as a public sector CIO, Hale decided he wanted to
move to the private sector. He developed e-commerce plans for one
online retailer as vice president and chief technology officer,
then later became CIO for a home improvement company.
"Those were enriching experiences," Hale said. "They
exposed me to the kind of challenges and pressures that aggressive,
excellent companies face in today's business world."
Hale had been familiar with Macon State and its information technology
programs for some time. He knew Dr. Mike Staman, Peyton Anderson
Professor of IT at Macon State, from CIO circles - Staman had been
chief information officer for the University System of Georgia's
Board of Regents. Hale had also met Bell and was impressed with
his vision for the college. So he jumped at the chance to take the
Institute director's job.
"David Bell obviously has the gift for leadership and understands
what Macon State's impact on Central Georgia could be," Hale
said, "so I knew that was a team I wanted to be on."
Besides heading up the Institute, Hale is teaching senior seminars
in the IT bachelor's degree program and helping develop Macon State's
long-range technology plan. To further strengthen the Institute's
ties to Houston County, Hale has an office in Warner Robins at the
Advanced Technology Park. He is currently making the rounds of Houston
County businesses and talking to RAFB officials to find out what
their technology needs are to determine what additional outreach
programs the Institute should offer.
Hale will also be a key player in the development of Macon State's
new Warner Robins Center on Watson Boulevard, just a half mile from
the base's main gate. Eventually, the Institute will be headquartered
at the new WRC.
"It's important that the Institute have an agenda so people
know what you're all about," Hale said. "We're going to
keep an open door to industry, government, non-profits and other
educational institutions to ensure that we are serving the community,
with a special eye on technology growth."