Oct 22 2015

Report: IT Can Save States $11 Billion Over Next Five Years

Using technology can save resources if states follow certain steps.

There’s a premium placed on time and money: Every person and organization wishes they had more of both. A recent report claims state governments can save as much as $11 billion over the next five years through the use of technology.

The report was produced by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and features time- and money-saving strategies, says StateScoop. They include reducing employee workloads, replacing older equipment with technology that’s less costly and automating government processes. ITIF used California as an example because, in addition to saving money, the state’s use of telemedicine in state correctional facilities provides patients with better care.

The potential savings for individual states are beyond substantial (up to $1.32 billion for California), but ITIF President Rob Atkinson said the process is far easier said than done.

“Every state is doing some project that helps with that, but it’s a little bit like turning an ocean liner around,” he told StateScoop. “It’s a little like alcoholism, you need to understand there’s a problem before you can cure it. You’ve got to understand that this is something you want to do.”

Understanding productivity has been another obstacle. Atkinson went as far as to call it “undervalued among CIOs,” adding that they tend to focus on “the tools, but the tools should be used for something.”

The ITIF report also offered some difficult cost-cutting advice for state CIOs: lay employees off in favor of technology.

“It’s hard to talk about ‘let’s use technology to fire a bunch of people,’ but that’s what we’re saying here,” Atkinson explained. “If not fire them, you can attrition them or use the money to have them do something completely different. I don’t care what you do with them, I just want the savings.”

Atkinson believes the $11 billion estimate is a little ambitious (he anticipates states will save a quarter of that “at best”) unless serious changes are made over the next few months. So while states recognize the value of IT, actually implementing it will always be the challenge.

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

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