Tag Archives: Florida

All change again for management of state IT projects in Florida

It is all change again when it comes to the management of IT and IT projects within one US state government.

According to this report, the state of Florida is preparing to do without a standalone agency that deals with technology, with the eventual demise of the Agency for Enterprise Information Technology (AEIT), a 16-person unit that helped set standards for technology purchasing and information security under the supervision of Florida’s governor and cabinet.

The Florida Legislature has passeda bill,  HB 5011, which would have replaced AEIT with an Office of State Technology (though quite how that would differ is unclear).  The Florida Governor, Rick Scott, vetoed the bill, and although the agency still exists, it will have no funding when the new fiscal year starts in July.

Many of its employees, including former state Chief Information Officer David Taylor, have already begun moving to other agencies, the report says.

As usual, the state of IT projects has come under fire with one politician, Denise Grimsley, arguing that studying some of the state’s technology initiatives – including an attempt to switch most of state government to a single e-mail system – led her to conclude that AEIT “in its current state was ill-suited to provide the statewide vision and oversight needed for certain enterprise information technology projects.”

Plus ca change.

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Florida’s IT projects consolidation continues at a glacial pace

By David Bicknell

US states’ recent history on IT projects has been a rollercoaster ride with more downs than ups.

The State of Florida’s recent experiences have mirrored those of  others. As this article details, Florida’s modernisation and consolidation of its IT systems has had its fair share of headlines.

“The tenures of the first two chief information officers were controversial. Both resigned; afterward, auditors found problems with how contracts and agency finances had been managed. The third CIO cancelled the questionable contracts, but the missteps left a shadow over the agency, and in 2005 the Legislature eliminated its funding.”

As the article points out, for many years,Florida’s individual departmental agencies made their own IT decisions, leaving the state with nearly two dozen data centres, 30 e-mail systems, 200 different IT groups and 150 websites. Bush believed merging those systems and centralising control of IT operations would make government more efficient and allow the state to take advantage of economies of scale.

But the process has been a slow one. Almost glacial. A new Agency for Enterprise Information Technology (AEIT) was set up to handle the consolidation efforts and create IT policy — but it has been restricted in its work, designed to be “a small agency with a small staff with a large mission in our hands,” according to  its CIO David Taylor.

The department, with a staff of just 16 and a budget of $1.6 million, cannot dictate what systems other agencies should use and purchase. Instead, its role is restricted to advising departments on strategies like bulk buying and working with agencies to standardise specifications for equipment to help facilitate volume purchases. The agencies, however, aren’t required to follow AEIT’s advice. And bigger IT targets — core business systems, accounting systems and licensing systems – remain untouched.

Taylor believes that the state would be better served by “one unified IT agency” with some teeth to do something — and he may eventually get his wish.

In December, the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force, a panel that provides cost-cutting strategies to the Legislature, recommended giving the agency budget and procurement authority for “enterprise” projects and services and giving it greater power to enforce its standards.

Florida’s modernisation of its IT systems may eventually pick up pace. But don’t expect miracles. Just a crawl.

Even Taylor accepts the need for an almost painfully steady-as-you-go approach. “We should demonstrate that we can be successful in our current consolidation efforts before taking on even greater challenges.”