Jan 28 2016

Illinois Consolidates State IT Functions into Single New Department

Earlier this week, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order creating the Department of Innovation and Technology.

On Monday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order that consolidates all of the state’s different IT functions into one cabinet agency that will manage IT choices and procurement.

Executive Order 16-01 creates the new Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). The governor’s office said the new department will be responsible for all IT decision-making and spending.

“We are in the midst of a digital revolution. Technology has made us more efficient, more informed and better connected,” Rauner said in the statement. “The Department of Innovation and Technology will modernize our aging technology systems and lead to better, quicker and more efficient service for taxpayers. This technology transformation is critical to enhancing our competitiveness.”

A New, Consolidated Agency

The governor’s office said, “DoIT will develop statewide IT solutions that take a 360-degree view of a resident or business. This will allow the state to use data to provide more tailored services while reducing inefficiencies and costs to taxpayers.”

Until now, Crain’s Chicago Business reports, the state’s various IT functions reported to the Central Management Services (CMS) Department. Rauner’s office said, “While there has been some consolidation of IT services under CMS, each agency was left in charge of developing its own technology solutions. That created a patchwork of systems that were often redundant, not interoperable and vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

As things stand in Illinois now, “agencies often cannot share data easily to identify waste, save taxpayer money, and more efficiently serve businesses and residents,” the governor’s office said.

The new office will be led by Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt and will “create a strategic, statewide technology plan to accelerate Illinois’ modernization.”

According to multiple reports, including from NBC Chicago and CBS Chicago, Illinois spends around $800 million per year on IT services and has around 1,700 employees who work in IT.

NBC Chicago quoted Rauner as saying at a press conference, "We believe very quickly we will begin to derive significant cost savings, massive long-term savings. It's many hundreds of millions, billions over time."

Following Other States

According to the statement from Rauner’s office, 29 other states, Chicago and “much of the private sector consolidate technology functions into central departments.”

Indeed, over the past few years, many states have merged their IT offices into centralized departments. Michigan was one of the pioneers on this front and in October 2001 created the Michigan Department of Information Technology, partly in response to fiscal pressures.

Washington State is one of the latest examples of a state that consolidated its IT functions, a decision sparked by a budget proposal from Gov. Jay Inslee. The agency, Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech) is “‘the consolidated technology services agency’” created to establish a streamlined, agile central IT organization that enables public agencies to better serve the people of Washington via technology.”

The state legislature passed a law creating the new agency, and it started operating on July 1, 2015. WaTech serves state agencies, county, city and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations. WaTech “operates the state's core technology infrastructure — the central network and data center; supports enterprise applications; and, innovates through E-Government.”

Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons