N.J. reform commission calls for IT overhaul

A blue-ribbon panel established earlier this year by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) to study the performance of state government recommended this week appointing a chief information officer to oversee the state's strategic technology plan.

The CIO would be responsible for implementing the plan, directing the state IT office, and ensuring that services are delivered and costs controlled.

The first report from the New Jersey Commission on Government Efficiency and Reform contains recommendations for a major overhaul of the state's IT office. The commission was established to evaluate the budget, structure and organization of government.

The commission noted in its report that the state IT office needs a completely new mandate, mission and structure.

In addition to the appointment of a CIO, the 13-member panel recommends a new operating structure for the state IT office. What's more, it advised that the office, rather than individual agencies, handle all IT infrastructure issues to reduce operating costs.

While agencies would retain some day-to-day functions, several deputy CIO positions would be established to oversee strategic planning and budgeting for groups of related agencies.

The panel recommended upgrading or replacing outdated personnel and payroll systems as soon as possible.

In March, chief technology officer Charles "Steve" Dawson resigned as head of the state's Office of IT following complaints by state lawmakers of a lack of oversight over technology resources and funding. As a result, New Jersey has an interim CTO.

CTOs typically focus on technical operations but do not have a policy role.

The report "offers a good list of realistic recommendations that create a framework for a leaner, more effective state government," Corzine said in a statement.

About the Author

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

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