Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire Wants to Create New IT Agency

Gov. Chris Gregoire proposes IT restructuring to save the state millions of dollars.

by / January 7, 2011
Gov. Chris Gregoire at the Governor's mansion in Olympia, Wash.

Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire hopes to create a new technology agency to add to the state’s IT system as part of her overall plan to save the state $32 million over the next four years.
The Consolidated Technology Services Agency, if created, is estimated by the executive branch to save $10 million a year. The new agency would privatize and consolidate some of the state’s basic IT operations, such as help-desk support and data center operations.

“The bottom line with this is that they are going to try to figure out the most effective and cost-effective way to serve the state’s basic IT needs, either through privatization or keeping it in-house,” said Gregoire spokesman Scott Whiteaker.

The proposed restructuring is in response to a $4.6 billion budget deficit. Last month, Gregoire floated a state reorganization plan that would consolidate the state’s 21 agencies into nine, at a projected $30 million savings. As part of that plan, the Department of Information Services, the state’s technology agency, would be recombined into the newly formed Department of Enterprise Services, which would perform back-office functions like printing and financials that today are performed separately in each agency.

Whiteaker told Government Technology on Monday, Jan. 10, that the Department of Information Services would be eliminated in the governor's newest proposal, and the department's staff would be reassigned to Consolidated Technology Services, the Office of the Chief Information Officer or the Department of Enterprise Services. About 150 employees would be cut overall from a number of state agencies, and not just from the Department Information Services, Whiteaker said, "the result of the overall technology transformation in the state."

When conceiving the Consolidated Technology Services Agency, Gregoire looked at how the private sector provided basic IT services and support to its employees, said Whiteaker. The governor found that large businesses with multiple divisions were sharing and centralizing tech support and standardizing software and hardware companywide, he said.

“There is no reason why the state can’t do the same and save taxpayers millions of dollars a year,” Gregoire said in a press release.

Gregoire will appoint a director to lead the Consolidated Technology Services Agency (CTS), and a board of directors composed of executives from the state agencies that CTS would serve, will analyze and choose which core services will be outsourced. Cost, quality and reliability, security issues, federal guidelines and how integral specific technologies are to agency operations will be taken into consideration.

No decisions have been made on which companies would be considered for contracting, said Whiteaker. The board will also approve the department’s spending plan and rate structure, and submit performance evaluations to the governor.

As part of the plan, a cabinet-level CIO would sit on the CTS board of directors, and create an enterprisewide business plan, set uniform standards for all agencies, establish a framework of common technology and provide oversight of major IT projects.

Gregoire’s plan would require approval by the Washington State Legislature. The legislative session began Monday, Jan 10.

Editor's Note: This article was updated Monday to reflect updated information provided by Gregoire's office.

Lauren Katims Nadeau

Lauren Katims previously served as a staff writer and contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.