Report: Washington State’s Internal IT Services Need Upgrades

WaTech currently faces problems in a range of areas, chief among them being transparency, communication and modernity.

Washington State’s IT agency, WaTech, needs to work on a range of problems in order to better serve the state agencies it is designed to support, a performance audit has determined.

The central finding of the audit, which was released Sept. 25 and drawn from interviews with state agencies, is that “although WaTech has been making efforts to improve the services it provides to its customers, more work needs to be done.” Many of the problems cited by the evaluation involved efficiency, whether in finances, transparency or communication.

The audit made eight recommendations in total:

  1. Work with customer agencies to determine how best to gather comments and feedback when implementing IT services.
  2. Strengthen existing processes to ensure customer comment and feedback is considered as the agency develops, purchases and provides IT services. If customer suggestions are not incorporated, communicate the reasons why.
  3. Ensure the cost components that make up service rates are readily available to customers.
  4. Provide clarity to customers on what is included in allocated costs and services.
  5. Continue meeting with customers to ensure they can obtain necessary information from billing reports, and gather input on requirements for a new billing system.
  6. Continue to develop plans to recover costs.
  7. Periodically compare the cost of services to alternatives that meet customer needs.
  8. Periodically review services considering sustainability, cost and agency needs to determine whether the services should be continued.
The report also includes a response from WaTech officials, in which they note that their agency is a young one (about 13 months old at the time the audit started) created in part to address many of the same concerns raised by the audit. The response also notes that seven of the eight suggestions are related to problems that WaTech is already addressing.

“Since WaTech’s formation two years ago, significant organizational change and growth have occurred,” WaTech officials wrote in response. “We have already made progress in addressing the issues identified in the performance audit, and we are committed to continual improvement.”

Prior to WaTech’s creation, its responsibilities were split between three separate entities. In 2015, the Washington Legislature created WaTech by consolidating those departments. 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine
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