Florida Could Soon Have a New CIO

Legislation to establish the Agency for State Technology heads to Gov. Rick Scott for signature.

Florida may be getting a new central agency to oversee its IT spending, complete with an executive director who would also serve as the state’s chief information officer.

The changes are part of new legislation heading to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for his signature. The House bill would provide $4.8 million to create the Agency for State Technology, including 25 full-time positions for fiscal year 2014 to 2015 and a CIO position. That person would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate.

“The Florida House is committed to improving the efficiency of our state government and saving taxpayer dollars,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford upon the bill’s passage. “This bill will help modernize the state’s IT infrastructure and ensure Florida is no longer the only state in the nation without a chief information officer.”

Here’s what the bill would do:

• Create several positions within the Agency for State Technology, or AST, including a chief planning officer, six strategic planning coordinators, chief operations officer, chief information security officer and a chief technology officer.

• Task the AST with developing and implementing IT architecture standards, establishing project management and oversight standards and performing project oversight for state agency IT projects that cost at least $10 million. The AST would have to review all state agency IT projects that cost $250,000 or more.

• Require the AST to oversee cabinet agency IT projects that total $25 million or more and impact other agencies. The AST would also identify opportunities for standardizing and consolidating common IT services.

The bill would establish the AST within the Department of Management Services for budgetary purposes only, says DMS Communications Director Ben Wolf; the head of DMS would not have supervisory authority over the new technology organization.

Unlike Florida’s defunct Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, the AST would have adequate staffing, and the CIO would have greater authority to make decisions, says Joel Ramos, senior legislative assistant to Sen. Jeremy Ring. Ring, a former Yahoo executive, has strongly supported the creation of a state IT agency, headed by an empowered CIO.

“It was envisioned that the CIO would have the ability to do what he needed to do to be successful,” says Ramos.

When asked whether the governor is in favor of the bill, spokesman John Tupps said the governor’s office will review the legislation when it reaches his desk. Government Technology explains the political strife that led to defunding the Agency for Enterprise Information Technology.

Florida is the only state without a CIO to oversee an estimated $733 million a year in IT spending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“You leave it to the CIO to tell us what we have, tell us how to use what we have, and let’s go from there,” says Ramos.

<p>Joseph Lopez/Hemera/ThinkStockPhotos</p>
May 14 2014