Utah, CIO, Steve Fletcher Steve Fletcher, CIO, Utah/Four Questions Photo by Kelly LaDuke

Photo: Utah CIO Steve Fletcher

California CIO Teri Takai had support from a Western ally when she and other high-ranking state officials testified on Tuesday about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to consolidate California IT services.

Utah CIO Steve Fletcher came to Sacramento to testify before the Little Hoover Commission, a bipartisan oversight agency that makes policy recommendations to the California State Assembly. Fletcher shared the challenges and outcomes of Utah's IT reorganization that consolidated 38 data centers and 900 IT workers across 24 agencies.

"Utah's experience with IT consolidation can be scaled to fit in California," Fletcher said in written testimony submitted to the commission. "However, the CIO must be enabled to make important business decisions. One size does not fit all, and the CIO must be able to make decisions for the entire IT enterprise.

"Gov. Schwarzenegger's IT plan must enable the CIO to reorganize IT resources. In order to make a significant change in organizational structure, the CIO must be able to align and assign IT resources where needed," he said.

In a series of published policy studies this decade, the Little Hoover Commission has advocated for a "strong" CIO for California. In its latest report in November 2008 on California's technology infrastructure, A New Legacy System: Using Technology to Drive Performance, the commission recommended that the state undergo a consolidation that would give the state CIO more authority.

Schwarzenegger's' Reorganization Plan integrates many of those recommendations, though Takai is pushing for a "federated" model of consolidation that would allow state agencies to retain control of their IT budgets. California spends at least $3 billion each year on information technology.

The plan calls for centralized IT policy and procurement by the Office of the State Chief Information Officer. Takai and her office would absorb and oversee the Department of Technology Services -- which currently manages two of California's largest data centers -- the Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection, and the Department of General Services' telecommunications division. Under the plan, California's Chief Information Security Officer Mark Weatherford and Technology Services Director P.K. Agarwal would report to Takai.

The Little Hoover Commission has 60 days from Tuesday's hearing to recommend further action on the reorganization plan. The plan also will be submitted to the state Assembly, which will have 60 days to let it take effect or issue a resolution against it.

Video: Utah CIO Steve Fletcher talks about his state's move to a four-day workweek and an initiative to boost employment in rural areas.

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor