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Update: Florida State Technology Office Loses Funding

"It's a challenge to get them to broaden their perspective and be more enterprise-centric" -- Simone Marstiller

The Florida State Technology Office was not funded by the Legislature following Gov. Bush's veto of a bill that would have abolished the office and made other changes.

According to an article yesterday in the Tallahassee Democrat the budget eliminates the position of state CIO, held by Simone Marstiller, and 25 other positions, while transferring 150 technology positions to the Department of Management Services.

One of the vetoed bill's sponsors, Nancy Argenziano (R-Crystal River), said in an April press release that "... the State Technology Office is no longer an efficient manager of these large information technology projects.

"We spend more than $2 billion a year in public technology budgets," said Argenziano. "This investment is big, but the track record on making it better is very poor. We all know of the large procurement projects, the big ticket names that have been off time, off budget and off task."

Argenziano said the legislation would require "each affected agency to develop an internal technology control process to discipline the execution of its technology investment. The process of governance and accountability applies to agency technology activities and is based upon increasing state budgetary investment. This bill provides legislative intent of the importance of establishing a management control process that aligns state agency information technology needs with their individual jurisdictional requirements.

"This bill, like Senate Bill 1146 pertaining to the Center for Efficient Government, makes extensive use of the budget process to discipline technology investment," concluded Argenziano. "The Governor will be key to these budget recommendations but the Legislature will be making the policy and funding calls. That means no more back door contracts or off-budget bank accounts."

Marstiller -- who became state CIO in May 2004 after the previous CIO resigned amid charges of contract mismanagement -- won admirers for tackling a tough job, and was named one of Government Technology magazine's "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" for 2004. In an interview Marstiller indicated that resistance to change was to be one of the state's challenges. "The entities comprising the government enterprise have long operated independently of one another," she said, "and the, 'We've always done it this way' attitude is pervasive. It's a challenge to get them to broaden their perspective and be more enterprise-centric. Some might argue that the legislative process also impedes progress and reform. To overcome these challenges, you must have a solid business case for whatever you're proposing, and demonstrate value to the individual agency, the enterprise and the citizen."

According to an update in today's Tallahassee Democrat the Legislature faulted technology-outsourcing contracts the technology office signed under two previous directors. In the article, Marstiller said nine of the STO employees had new jobs with other state agencies, and that she plans to take some time off.
Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.
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