Apr 14 2008

IT Outlook

Despite bleak budgets, the Center for Digital Government points to many big IT projects in the planning stages.

Although the state and local budget outlook is down, there are still several large public-sector IT projects in the works.

Speaking at the “Beyond the Beltway: State and Local IT Market Watch” conference in McLean, Va., Cathilea Robinett of the Center for Digital Government touched on the funding challenges and IT priorities of CIOs. Robinett, executive director and executive vice president of the Center for Digital Government, said 25 states face a cumulative $39 billion in budget shortfalls for fiscal 2009. Reports from the National Association of Counties, the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also point to declining revenue for the public sector.

Yet communities are responding with innovation, regionalization and collaboration to accomplish their IT goals. Citing research from Gartner and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, Robinett pointed out that top IT priorities are consolidation and virtualization. She noted that Virginia replaced 60,000 desktop computers and notebooks with Energy Star–rated machines, saving $12 million per year and reducing energy consumption by 32 percent. And in New York, the Department of Motor Vehicles virtualized 277 servers across 11 physical machines. New York City has gotten into the act, too, virtualizing servers to gain the capacity equivalent of 400 servers.

The Center for Digital Government also highlighted some new data-center renovation projects. California hopes to build a new data center by 2011. Washington’s $260 million data center is slated for completion in 2010. And Georgia recently issued a contract to consolidate 13 of its agencies by outsourcing its data centers.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications are hot too, judging from the contracts in the works. In the Washington, D.C., metro area, Montgomery County, Md., Fairfax County, Va., and the Commonwealth of Virginia are planning such initiatives. Further south, Travis County, Texas, and Miami-Dade County, Fla., have projects in the works. And California’s Financial Information System for California (Fi$Cal) budget, accounting and procurement business-transformation project will take $150 million and up to seven years to complete.

File-sharing, shared services and integration are driving health and human services and administration and finance applications. Montana will be issuing a request for proposal for its Automated Child Support Enforcement IT Systems next year. Virignia will be issuing RFPs for customer-relationship-managment (CRM) and business-intelligence applications. And California intends to automate its MediCal administration application.

Portals are up for bid in California, Florida, New York and Texas. Robinett said that state and local communities have an eye toward Web 2.0 technologies and software as a service for applications such as office productivity tools, CRM, ERP and e-mail.

With such big deals in the works, IT procurement groups will still be busy.