GT: What did you learn from the select committee hearings earlier this year?
Kopp: Overall, I learned that the state of California, which has approximately 125 departments, doesn't posses a simple or similar method for acquisition of technology. It doesn't posses a consolidation of authority to purchase information technology.
It does have, of course, several large-scale projects in progress. It has the promise of the new Department of Information Technology [DOIT], along with a new director who could lead a more consolidated effort in acquiring and utilizing information technology. He has begun, in some instances, some inventive and advanced uses of information technology for the public at large and for interaction between several state departments.
GT: Was one of the main purposes of the series of hearings for legislators to learn about information technology issues?
Kopp: Yes, it was informational, and I'm gratified that the departments cooperated and furnished information to the committee. It was, overall, a gratifying series of hearings.
The hearings were successful in providing information, but were also successful in terms of imparting to state agencies the interest of the state Senate in information technology -- the interest in the efficient and effective exercise of responsibilities by the Department of Information Technology.
I wanted DOIT and the director to know that the state Senate will continue to monitor the activities of that office, the performance of the office, and the performance of John Thomas Flynn as the director.
GT: How important is it for lawmakers, such as state Senators, to learn about the concept of managing information technology in state government?
Kopp: It's extremely important because information technology is the future. Most legislators are of a generation which conventionally articulates and thinks of policy development in pre-technology days or in pre-technology ways. That must change.
Without the kind of information collected in the hearings, and collected for the members of the select committee, that change would probably be retarded.
GT: What have you identified as priorities as the Department of Information Technology gets off the ground?
Kopp: Those areas are in the larger areas of state governmental activities and transactions. Those are, for example -- with respect to the Department of Motor Vehicles -- making information available in the judicial system and the Health and Welfare Agency.
GT: Have you identified certain things that are working, such as multiple award schedules or best-value procurement, which are being implemented and used by the state?
Kopp: I learned last year, as a member of the Senate Budget Committee dealing with the failed performance of technology in the Department of Motor Vehicles, that there have to be contractual requirements, such as establishing satisfactory operations, before the state pays fully for equipment or technology. That's certainly one of the lessons.
That's the responsibility of [California CIO] Flynn, and he knows that. He knows the spotlight is on him. He seems confident and we'll see a little later in the year if my confidence thus far in his competency is warranted.
GT: Some changes in procurement law have been made over the past few years -- what still needs to be changed?
Kopp: I expect Flynn to transmit to me recommendations for legislative changes. I'm carrying one bill, for example, that embodies that with respect to the powers of the Department of Information Technology [Ed. note: SB 1898 would allow appointment of some department officers to be exempt from civil service]. That's one bill he recommended and sponsored, in effect. He's been invited to provide me with other recommendations for next session.
I expect to process legislation in the next session as he becomes more familiar with what the state needs, particularly with procurement. There are some standard contractual provisions