Ellen Perlman was a GOVERNING staff writer and technology columnist.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Does not compute," is how Colorado Governor Bill Ritter views the technology operations of his state. When he took office, he found that more than 20 state agencies housed their own information technology staffs--a situation that has led to redundancy and waste. "This state," says Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for the governor, "has a number of major IT systems that are either underperforming or failing, to the tune of about $300 million."
In an effort to cut those losses and replace an ineffective department-by-department model, Ritter is centralizing and consolidating information technology. His administration has set up a new home for much of the state's technology operations in the governor's Office of Information Technology. There, the state will be able to centralize technology purchasing, spending, planning and asset management.
Ritter's plans don't end there. He also calls for merging multiple e- mail and telephone systems into one. He would like to see 38 data centers reduced to two or three. Through reform, he told a recent technology conference in Denver, he wants Colorado to vault "into the nation's technology elite."
Last May, Ritter took some of the initial steps in that reform effort by elevating the position of chief information officer to cabinet status and putting CIO Mike Locatis in charge of the reform. His first move was to perform a top-to-bottom audit of the state's IT systems. The governor in October also created the state's first Innovation Council, composed of experts from technology businesses, government, academia and the nonprofit sector. One of its subcommittees will help the state with its reform agenda. A co-chair of the council already has commented that it is "insane" to have so many different e-mail systems operating in a state.