Virginia has a population of 7.1 million people. That's a little over 3 times Utah's population of 2.3 million. They have an IT budget of almost $1 billion. Annual software & equipment investments in VA amount to $500,000. I am told that Utah's total IT budget is about $130 million. I mention this because a consultant group is using Virginia as an example of how Utah can save money. Under new Governor Mark Warner, who has a high tech background, Virginia is consolidating all of its information technology operations into VITA, a central IT department and yet some in the Virginia General Assembly say that the seven month effort is "adrift" and not accomplishing what it was envisioned to do so they are bringing in Lemuel Stewart, a former IT department director, at $165,000 per year. A survey shows that Tennessee's CIO, who makes $225,000 is the only state CIO to make more than Stewart (source: Information Week). Meanwhile, Gov. Warner has called for a billion dollar tax increase.
The important thing for me is that the Utah Technology Commission has recommended a study similar to one undertaken in Virginia to make recommendations regarding overall IT structure in the State of Utah. Virginia is also one of the states we try to compete with as an IT leader. I will continue to monitor it closely. And we look at a wide range of issues, including online service delivery, productivity, innovation, return on investment, alignment with business needs and processes, etc.
On the other hand, I had the chance to meet with Paul Taylor the other day. Paul is with the Center for Digital Government, a former Washington state IT executive, and has an excellent mind for online government (Val Oveson was featured in this month's executive teleconference sponsored by the Center). We discussed some ideas for improving cooperation through the development of a digital academy and other means. This would be a "gentler" way towards incremental improvement.
I met for about three hours with the Utah Legislature (CFAS committee) on Monday and gave a presentation on what we are trying to do in ITS (central IT division) to remain fiscally sound and provide the kind of service that current and future state business will demand. Our legislature, like most legislatures around the country, is concerned about IT, some merely because it is a cost center and others because they see its potential. My desire is that we can continue to maintain an even higher level of excellence in our IT operations as a way to increase overall state productivity, drive innovation, and continue to enhance service to citizens.
An article in FCW says that Arizona plans to consolidate e-purchasing. That's interesting - it seems a little late, but I don't know exactly what they mean when they talk about "development of an integrated electronic system will allow the state to aggregate its buying power, reduce or eliminate duplicative contracts for similar products and services, and strategically manage its spending." Utah has had aggregated contracts (including for local government, higher and public education) for quite a while. WSCA allows us to aggregate with other states as well. A comprehensive online catalog system that covers all purchases is something we still lack.