Warner signs sweeping Virginia IT reform bill

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner signed two bills yesterday creating a new state agency, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and a chief information officer to oversee planning and development of all IT projects in the state.

The moves are designed to restructure the state's information technology and significantly improve operations, the governor's office announced.

Warner, who thanked state lawmakers for their efforts in crafting the legislation, described the bill's passage as the easy part of a consolidation effort.

"Now comes the hard part: Making the institutional and mindset changes needed for this ambitious reform effort to succeed," Warner said. The "common-sense" technology reforms embodied in the reforms will save state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and result in more efficient, effective and user-friendly state government, he said.

George Newstrom, Virginia's secretary of technology and state chief information officer, said that state agencies will be able to accomplish more as an enterprise as result of the consolidation than they ever could before as independent units as they have in the past.

Virginia spends about $900 million annually on information technology. The reform legislation will consolidate the majority of 94 state agency IT departments into VITA.

Beginning July 1, three state departments and two boards with major roles in technology oversight and implementation will cease operations. These are the Department of Technology Planning, Department of Information Technology, Virginia Information Providers Network Authority, Board of the Virginia Information Providers Network Authority and the Chief Information Officer Advisory Board. Employees of the three agencies being eliminated will move into VITA.

John Kost, vice president of worldwide public sector research for the market research firm of Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn., said the creation of VITA and the authority vested in it are not unique to Virginia but part of an ongoing trend toward IT consolidation among the states.

"While these administrative changes will, by themselves, not ensure the kind of transformation of state government that the governor and CIO envision, they are necessary prerequisites," Kost said.

"[The] key to success as this consolidation proceeds will be the ability of the CIO to take responsibility for the management processes of government, such as budgeting, procurement and human resources as they relate to technology," he said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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