Gerry Weaver, CIO, Indiana Benign Dictatorship/Technology Management Changes Save Indiana Millions Photo courtesy of Gerry Weaver

Photo: Indiana CIO Gerry Weaver

 

A quip that rings true is that IT management should be more of a dictatorship than a democracy. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' 2005 executive order creating a state CIO position and the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) embodied that philosophy. The office overhauled the state's technology landscape, consolidating IT infrastructure -- such as the network, e-mail, payroll and help desk -- across 70 agencies. That enabled the IOT to consolidate purchasing for those functions and reorganize hardware. As a result, the state saves more than $14 million annually, said Indiana CIO Gerry Weaver.

"When the governor started this, he gave us the authority -- you might say dictatorial powers -- to drive cost savings and improve performance," Weaver said.

Before the consolidation, agencies ran their own IT, leading to costly, disparate systems.

"Nobody wants to centralize, so you get a lot of resistance," Weaver said.

The IOT took over IT infrastructure functions, like human resources, payroll, e-mail and data center maintenance. Some agency IT employees became IOT employees and started performing infrastructure functions statewide. Agency CIOs stayed in their agencies with smaller teams refocused on agency-specific application development. The consolidation cut roughly 150 agency-IT jobs and many of those employees were retrained for other agency jobs requiring an IT background; others left state government. The IOT recruited around 30 private-sector executives. Approximately 230 IOT workers now manage IT for 28,000 end-users, Weaver said.

Weaver had a long career at outsourcing provider EDS, which he used as a model for Indiana.

The consolidation was part of Daniels' strategy to put the state's deficit-plagued budget in the black. The state had been borrowing money from education bonds and using other temporary fixes. Two years after Daniels' budget initiative, Indiana paid back those education bonds and reports a balanced budget.

"We'd be glad to share anything with any states that are approaching this regarding the templates we used, the processes we used and the way we set up the billing mechanisms," Weaver said.

 

Forming the A-Team

Weaver found a mess when he became Indiana's CIO. A section of the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA) was charged with approving technology purchases, but lacked standards. That section also managed IT for 900 of the 28,000 PCs statewide. Allowing the IDOA to manage IT was optional for agencies, so most preferred to keep it in-house.

Weaver searched for the state's best agency IT staff to use as a foundation for the statewide model. He chose the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). It had the biggest IT department in state government and had consistent management processes, unlike most agencies, Weaver said.

"[The FSSA] had some metrics. There were no metrics in the IDOA. The FSSA really monitored what was going on from a customer satisfaction standpoint," Weaver said. "We expanded all that and created a series of metrics that we measure every day, every month, every week. Then we started the consolidation."

Weaver transplanted several FSSA staff members to the IOT. Those employees then recommended IT staffers they knew in other agencies who would be a good fit for the IOT. Weaver cherry picked those employees and also recruited from the private sector.

 

Operation E-Mail

The state maintained several e-mail systems in 2005, making interagency communication cumbersome. If an employee wanted to e-mail someone working in another agency, he or she usually had to search that agency's Web site for the e-mail address. Sometimes employees simply cracked open phonebooks.

The IOT standardized agencies on Microsoft Outlook and put all 28,000 users on a single network.

"That was challenging because four or five larger agencies had different e-mail systems, and when you get used to one thing, it's not

Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor