Florida Governor Recommends $4.3 Million IT Budget Increase

After some years of uncertainty, Florida has a CIO and a CISO, and it may soon have the funding needed to rebuild the state's IT.

by / November 23, 2015

The economic downturn and bureaucratic shuffling were hard on Florida IT, but state officials are piecing together a comeback.

On Nov. 23, Gov. Rick Scott released his recommendations for the state's 2016-2017 budget, which include a $4.3 million increase in IT funding. Florida's technology relaunched in 2014 under the name of the Agency for State Technology (AST) and is now led by CIO Jason Allison. The additional funding will give AST a chance to fix agency soft spots, tighten cybersecurity efforts, address growth and standardize business processes.

The state Legislature will consider the governor's proposal of allocating $594,000 for IT supporting agency growth, $992,000 for cybersecurity, and $773,000 to fix broken or ineffective systems and standardize business processes.

Growth includes requests from state agencies that need additional storage or system upgrades, explained Kristina Wiggins, AST chief of staff.

"That's something that, as populations continue to grow, is not going to slow down anytime soon," she said.

The state consolidated its data centers in lean times, she said, and now that the state is doing better financially, it's time to make the upgrades that were unaffordable in years past.

The nearly $1 million in proposed funding for cybersecurity upgrades would assist the operations of state chief information security officer Danielle Alvarez, who impressed upon Government Technology in November the importance of staying informed of threats and bad actors.

"I am a member of several national and international organizations that fund research and development practices designed to strengthen cybersecurity," Alvarez said. "I leverage these resources, as well as the knowledge that many of my colleagues have amassed over the years, to stay most up-to-date."

The state will spend the funding on training and tools so that Alvarez's office can do her job of protecting the state, Wiggins said, adding that the state is in a growth period, and officials are now finishing an inventory of assets that will allow them to take the next step forward amidst the CIO's current five-year plan.

"Moving forward, we want to do things as efficiently as possible," Wiggins said. "And if we want to provide different services, we'll look into that, but the agencies are super excited because they've never had someone be an advocate, and that's really what we are for them now."

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.