Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legislation Streamlining Information Technology among State Agencies Passes House

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 20, 2009) – Legislation that will streamline state information technology services and purchases while also working to prevent technology security breaches passed the House today.

House Bill 1704 would create a Chief Information Officer (CIO), who would direct technology purchases for state agencies. The consolidation of technology contracts will help the state pool its purchasing power to help drive down costs and improve services.

Instead of each state agency having its own small information technology (IT) contract, this legislation would allow the state to better leverage its purchasing power by buying IT equipment in bulk for agencies that have similar needs.

Oklahoma is only one of four states in the country without a centralized technology officer.

“Our state has an out-of-date technology system that doesn’t utilize purchasing best practices or properly leverage state agency purchasing power to maximize savings,” said Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso and author of the bill. “Our state spends $340 million a year on IT not including personnel and salaries and we are missing out in millions in savings by being one of the last state’s to abandon this antiquated process.”

Derby stressed that the CIO will be located within the Office of State Finance structure and no new agency is created in this bill.

The legislation would also work to centralize IT systems to help prevent and quickly attack security breaches where potentially sensitive information is compromised.

In recent months, several state computers containing citizens’ private information were either lost or stolen, including a flash drive from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and laptops from the Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency.

Under the bill, the CIO would not only direct technology purchases and services for the state, but would also consolidate and update security policies for all state agencies.

“Often state agency employees have access to very sensitive, private information that needs to be protected by a universal policy,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie and chairman of the House Government Modernization Committee. “This legislation will not only lead to savings of taxpayer dollars but will also work to keep taxpayer data safe.”

A task force created by 2005 legislation concluded that Oklahoma lacked a state technology strategy after listening to the concerns of agency information technology personnel. In 2007, as part of an initiative to streamline and modernize state government, the House Republican leadership further examined the costs savings potential in restructuring the state’s technology services.

Earlier this year, experts from across the nation appeared before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriation and Budget committees to provide examples of other states’ successes in modernizing their information technology services, often resulting in tremendous savings.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 56-42 and now returns to the Senate for final consideration.
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