February 29, 2012 By Hilton Collins
In 2005, West Virginia was consolidating its IT infrastructure under the newly created Office of Technology, and then-Gov. Joe Manchin hired Kyle Schafer to spearhead the effort.
Schafer soon noticed problems. The state’s decentralized technology systems meant that agencies with different equipment couldn’t read one another’s files. There were 150 email domains being used by various departments, requiring support from more than 30 email administrators. The state also lacked spam filtering software.
Consolidation would save West Virginia money on tech expenditures, reduce workflow duplication and strengthen cybersecurity. But under existing law, Schafer didn’t have the power to do it. “Our legislation didn’t have the authority to do any of the things that Gov. Manchin wanted to do,” he said. “So my first nine months on the job was crafting legislation around the newly formed office.”
With new legislation in place, Schafer’s efforts included creating a project management office to oversee IT initiatives; hiring the state’s first chief information security officer, Jim Richards, who’s still there; creating a state information security program; saving the state $130,000 by using an open source intrusion detection system; and eliminating duplicate processes by providing IT services from central IT instead of different agencies.
Schafer said that thanks to the changes, West Virginia saved about $8 million a year since fiscal 2006, and he’s sure that agencies are satisfied. “We feel confident that we’re meeting their expectations from a price and service perspective.”
[Editor's note: On Feb. 24, Kyle Schafer announced that he was leaving his job as West Virginia CTO for a position outside of state government.]
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