California Government IT Transformation Under Review

Proposal fails to address need for permanent governance structure, says Legislative Analyst's Office

by / May 12, 2005
Anna Brannen
Governor Schwarzenegger's government Reorganization Plan to create a Department of Technology Services is before the Little Hoover Commission -- which must review any proposed reorganization. The Commission will issue its recommendations to the Legislature which will then have 30 days to act on it.

Anna Brannen from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) -- a non-partisan body that evaluates proposals for the Legislature -- presented a perspective on the proposal at GTC West on Thursday. The hottest issue, said Brannen, is a new Department of Technology Services (DTS).

As Brannen pointed out, the state has had only an interim IT governance structure since the Department of Information Technology was allowed to sunset in 2002. Clark Kelso, the state's CIO, has no statutory authority, as there is no CIO in state law. The interim structure was implemented through executive order and the 2002-03 Budget Act.

The need for a permanent IT governance structure is evident. The state spends about $2 billion annually on IT, including $300 million on telecommunications services, $400 million on purchases of IT goods and services, $200 million operating the state's five data centers and $1 billion for developing and maintaining departmental systems.

Interim IT governance is complex and diverse. The CIO provides general guidance and coordination. The Department of Finance "develops policies for review, approval, oversight, and security of state IT systems" according to a publication of the LAO. The Department of General Services develops procurement policies and reviews and monitors state procurements. The five data centers operate shared computer systems and networks and operate large departmental systems. Individual departments manage their own IT projects, and maintain departmental hardware and software.

Proposed Changes
The proposed changes would consolidate the Stephen P. Teale Data Center and the Health and Human Services Agency Data Center, as well as a portion of the DGS Telecommunications Division.

The new DTS would handle small, medium and large computer hardware and software systems; implement and maintain the state's telecommunications network and services; Implement information security practices; assist departments in defining their technology needs; and develop state-level computer systems.

DTS would be overseen by a Technology Services Board (TSB) comprised of a designee of the Governor, most likely the CIO. The other TSB members would represent the Department of Finance, the State Controller, Cabinet secretaries, and the director of the Office of Emergency Services. TSB would meet quarterly under open-meeting-act requirements.

The DTS would have a revolving fund, and excess fund reserves would be used to reduce DTS rates.

LAO Concerns and Recommendations
According to Brannen, the "continuously appropriated fund, with no outside review of the budget" is a touchy issue. Also, the LAO believes that TSB should include more IT expertise and "perspectives outside of the administration." Plus, said Brannen, there is no allowance for designees, so essentially there would be "high-level political folks overseeing an operational entity."

The LAO also believes that the DTS proposal does not resolve the governance structure issues, and that the permanent governance structure needs to be based on key objectives, with accountability and with specific oversight. In addition, the LAO suggests a number of improvements in procurements, including, ironically, the use of computers and information technology to facilitate the process.
Wayne Hanson

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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