By Colin Wood

IT upgrades have saved Minnesota millions -- $24.7 million, in fact, since 2012.

An overhaul of the state’s IT agency – MN.IT – was approved by the legislature in 2011, and has reduced administrative waste, consolidated contracts to gain economy-of-scale savings, streamlined business processes, and created new accountability measures, according to the state.

“MN.IT's innovative work has produced significant savings for Minnesota taxpayers,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a press release. “Their reforms are also delivering faster and more efficient services to our citizens. I thank Commissioner [Carolyn] Parnell for her strong leadership and MN.IT Services' hard-working employees for their accomplishments."

The state is now negotiating new agreements on behalf of all state agencies that would save Minnesota more than $15 million on software and licensing contracts since 2012, and are expected to save an additional $7 million by 2015.

Other benefits of the overhaul, according to the state, include the consolidation of IT resources and improved collaboration on projects. “When state agencies collaborate more effectively, major state information technology projects are being completed more quickly and at a lower price,” according to the press release.

The overhaul included decommissioning one of the state's largest data centers, which reduced the amount of physical servers managed by the state by more than 60 percent. Another project is a Minnesota report card, which is assisting state agencies embrace mobile technology. And the Department of Natural Resources transitioned away from a paper-based system through adoption of MPARS, an online water reporting and permit application system.

“Delivering efficient and cost effective services was an important value proposition of IT consolidation,” said Parnell, who is commissioner of MN.IT Services and the state’s CIO. “Our early success comes primarily from the opportunity to leverage group purchasing and negotiate enterprise contracts to avoid the cost of smaller, individual purchasing agency-by-agency. There are still more areas where we can realize savings and we intend to maximize those opportunities.”