service departments will actually implement the thing."

To that end, the control agencies, not the CIO, have a strong role to play in making sure that agency IT projects dovetail with the state's strategic IT vision. The CIO also can't take an ivory-tower approach.

"Once you do a strategic plan, you just don't retire to an office somewhere and wait for reports," he said. "You've got to be out over-communicating. You've got to be talking to agency CIOs around the state. One of the things we stopped doing for a number of months was regular CIO meetings, but we've begun a process of trying to encourage those type of group meetings."

Work Within the Reality

The landscape Kelso must negotiate offers other challenges.

California has seven independently elected constitutional officers -- more than any other state -- and a slew of independent boards and commissions. Plus state agencies, partly due to their sheer size, have historically operated with a fair degree of autonomy -- autonomy reinforced by budget-related decisions.

"I don't know that a centralized IT agency can work in California," Kelso said. "It would involve a lot of independent offices giving up, it seems to me, way too much power -- power they probably shouldn't give up. There's a reason in California why we like these independent offices. To ask those offices to throw their technology spending, projects and programs over to some centralized IT agency isn't a fruitful approach."

Kelso said discussions on IT governance between himself, the Legislature and affected agencies will include debate on who should have what power. Command and control is necessary, he said.

"You've got to have, at some point, a power to make things happen or to stop things from happening," he said. "It's an important power to have -- sometimes you have to use it, mostly it's good to have it in the background. Most of the time you're going to work things out at a lower threshold, but working things out at a lower threshold is not so much command and control as it is communication, coordination and collaboration. That's clearly the direction we're going to be heading."

Kelso said the state is seriously considering creating a small IT board modeled on the State Public Works Board (SPWB), which oversees funding for capital outlay projects and carries out various statutory control provisions relating to those projects.

Voting members of the SPWB consist of the directors of the departments of Finance, Transportation and General Services, the state controller, and the state treasurer. The SPWB also includes six nonvoting legislative advisers -- three Senators and three Assembly members.

The structure of the board is a good starting point, though it will take much discussion to create a specific structure and decide the membership of the board, Kelso said. The organization could have some oversight authority and could serve as a public sounding board for IT strategic plans.

"You don't want the state CIO to be utterly divorced from reality, so I do think it might be useful to have the board be a place where any plans the state CIO develops get vetted and approved or rejected," he said. "It should have some oversight responsibilities to look at the state's IT programs -- the oversight program at the Department of Finance, the security program, our procurement efforts -- and in very limited circumstances, the board probably needs to have some ability to reach out to individual projects and engage in oversight in that context."

Kelso also sees the board being responsible for coordinating between the state's control agencies and making sure strategic plan documents and decisions are actually implemented.

Creating a strategic plan is Kelso's job, but he carefully noted that it

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor