CIO: Kimberly Bahrami (2 years on the job)
Budget Deficit: No deficit this year.
What That Means for IT Budget: $1.2 billion for IT spending.
Priorities: “Keeping the lights on,” consolidation, security, state portal (www.myflorida.com), enterprise technology services desk portal.
Cuts: Case management system; document management system; voice and data infrastructure enhancements and replacements, including new PCs, networks, servers.
Methodology: Technology Advisory Team.
The Problem: With critical tourism revenue in decline, Bahrami is working with Gov. Jeb Bush, agency heads and 38 agency CIOs to cut each agency’s spending by 10 percent without impairing its operations. Bahrami says her goal is to free up as many IT dollars as possible for critical services, such as domestic security, child welfare, family safety and education. If she can do that without “disrupting any state agency operations,” she will count the process a success.
The Process: Agencies submit their requests for IT projects; last fall, 267 such requests were submitted for 2003-2004. The agency CIOs meet, and during the course of one week, review their budget requests and group them into one of three different categories: projects that keep systems humming (highest priority), projects that contribute to enterprise integration, and “luxuries” or enhancements. The CIOs then present their groupings to Bahrami and members of her IT staff.
Bahrami and the agency CIOs know they have to focus on category-one issues. Within that category, they put a higher emphasis on projects that affect multiple agencies, align with state policy goals (such as improving student achievement, reducing violent crime and shrinking the government’s size), and have previously received funding (such as Myflorida.com, the information security office and the enterprise technology services desk portal). Last year, they pared the 267 requests down to 38.
Agency CIOs whose budget requests survive that initial review then make their case in a public hearing in front of Bahrami’s Technology Advisory Team (which includes Bahrami, the governor’s top budget official and chief of staff, and the heads of state revenue, health-care administration, the lottery and law enforcement). The committee then votes on which issues should head to the governor. (Of 38 requests, 26 made it into Bush’s budget for 2003-2004.)
Using this process, Bahrami was able to avoid $76 million in costs in 2002. If the budget recommendations win approval this year, it will trim more than $100 million off the budget for 2003-2004. Bahrami says this process allows the state to cut costs without seriously affecting its ability to deliver services.
An Expert’s View: Jane E. Fountain, director of the National Center for Digital Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, says Bahrami’s approach, though sound, “represents a continuation of a traditional strategy that fails to take advantage of significant savings that might come about through the use of IT-enabled process redesign across programs, agencies and departments.”
The typical budget review process, in which each agency justifies its budget before a board, Fountain adds, “simply reinforces an agency-by-agency approach to using IT in government. Single-agency approaches to technologies whose power lies largely in integration cannot achieve powerful results. The major efficiency gains from IT for government lie in the potential to integrate operations and data across agencies, not simply within them.”