Manuel H. Moreno, research director, Los Angeles County

In government, bureaucracy is a bigger threat to IT projects than badly behaving technology.

That's what Manuel H. Moreno, 61, research director in the chief executive office of the service integration branch of Los Angeles County, learned three years ago when he led the charge to create the first unified data warehouse for the county's social service agencies.

Policymakers had long wanted to cut down on waste. But each agency insisted on keeping its data separate and siloed, and "nobody knew how much money was spent or who were the frequent fliers -- the people who were using services much more frequently than others," says Moreno, who has more than 25 years of experience as a county manager.

Moreno cleverly navigated the bureaucracy to jump-start the data warehouse initiative, known as the Adult Linkages Project, says Halil Toros, the chief analyst working under Moreno.

"Manuel managed to attract the attention of our upper management. And with the direction of the county CEO, all departments were forced to cooperate," Toros says. Moreno was then able to get buy-in from each agency by explaining the benefits, and he maintained that buy-in through constant contact, Toros adds.

Moreno continues to build on that momentum: The county is now working on a pilot of a data mining system to help prevent fraud.

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