Lawmakers Look To Revamp State Tech System

Mar 28, 2017

Credit Leroy

Florida House lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to revamp the state’s information technology system.

Over the years Representative Blaise Ingoglia, who chairs the Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, says the cost of Florida’s information technology system has started to skyrocket.

“It’s pretty shocking. If you consider the cost of our state data center from the time our agencies were consolidated in the data center through  fiscal year 2017-2018 budget recommendations by the governor, our state datacenter costs have risen 32 percent,” Ingoglia said.

Ingoglia says that growth rate outpaces the percent cost increase of Medicaid—one of the fastest growing costs in the state. He’s proposing a bill that would reorganize the state’s IT structure. One part of that plan includes a policy Ingoglia says emphasizes cloud computing.  

“We have always spoken about operating in the cloud, but we have never adopted a policy that put cloud first. We are going to do that today as some other states have,” Ingoglia said.

The measure also creates an Office of Technology and Data Solutions and requires the Governor to appoint a state Chief information officer. The plan also abolishes the Florida Agency for State Technology and places the Office of Technology and Data Solutions under the Department of Management services.  Ingoglia says the idea is to ensure data is available while allowing the state’s technology workers to focus on their jobs.

But Tampa Republican Representative James Grant says he’s not sure the bill will actually accomplish what Ingoglia says he hopes it will.

“I think it’s clear that there is a big difference between what our chairman has said he intends to accomplish and what he wants to do and what the black and white letters on the bill actually do,” Grant said.

Grant says the measure as written walks back many of the advancement lawmakers have worked toward over the years.

“But going back to the wild-wild West of every agency being able to pick and choose how they want to buy and how they want to establish their own standards and terminologies,” Grant said.

And Kyle Baltuch with Florida Tax watch says instead of scrapping the current agency, all that may really be needed is a little tune-up.

“When you’re trying to fix something—if you’re replacing an engine that’s a lot more expensive than just changing the oil. Years ago we had real issues with our information technology center and as previous testimony has stated, we increase I think from a D to a B or B+. It’s the same thing. We’re finally hitting those economies of scale. We’re finally reaching those efficiencies that we need. And now it’s time to put oil in the engine and make sure that the engine doesn’t blow out and we have to replace it again,” Baltuch said.

Ingolglia agreed to work with Grant and others to clear up concerns. But he says the changes in the bill are needed to ensure agility in the agency as technology advancements come more and more quickly. The measure passed out of the House committee Tuesday.