March 23, 2009 By Chad Vander Veen
Lawmakers aren't generally known for their firm grasp on IT issues. In fact, some are about as comfortable in a data center as a moose in a space shuttle. But a few, like Utah's David Clark, not only value IT but also understand how technology can help a state prosper -- especially when everyone is asked to stretch every dollar.
Clark is responsible for HB 109, which was passed by the Utah Legislature in April 2005. The bill ushered in sweeping changes to Utah IT, most notably a massive statewide IT consolidation effort, creating the Department of Technology Services, and transforming the CIO from "paper tiger" to powerful executive, which Clark said was paramount to the consolidation.
"We were finding out we had an entire navy of ships out on the ocean, but we were lacking an admiral. We had nobody to coordinate," Clark said. "Interoperability, shared data, shared database -- a lot of this, we were plowing the same field just going different directions, and it looked like an opportunity to become more efficient."
According to Clark, the key to Utah's IT success has been the state leadership's ability to recognize and deal with issues before they blow up.
Though it's been four years since HB 109 passed, Clark, the Legislature and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. have continued to work closely with CIO Steve Fletcher as consolidation efforts continue.
"HB 109 remains very much intact," Clark said. "We've had some refinements, minor course corrections I think have helped with the overall process. Even though there may be less money, we've become a much more efficient, lean, mean machine."
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