Lessons Learned: Florida Brings Back the State CIO

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Earlier this year, I wrote about why it was important for the Florida legislature to bring back the position of state chief information officer (CIO) and reestablish (and also fully fund) a centralized agency focused on managing the state’s information technology.  State lawmakers agreed and passed legislation, H.B. 7073, which was signed into law by the governor and goes into effect today.

Before the bill’s passage, Florida was the only state without a CIO or a centralized IT agency to coordinate, manage, and provide oversight over essential technology projects.  In the coming weeks the state will begin developing the new Agency for State Technology (AST).  While it will be housed in the Department of Management Services, the agency will have its own budget and not be under the control, supervision or direction of the Department, which is important for autonomy. 

The new agency will be led by an executive director appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate who will hold the title of state CIO.  State lawmakers even spelled out specific requirements for the CIO to be a proven and effective administrator with executive-level experience in the public and private sector.  Going further, the CIO is also expected to have experience with IT strategic planning and enterprise project management, particularly for large-scale consolidation projects.

The new CIO will be backed by an executive team that will include a deputy executive director who will serve as deputy CIO, a chief planning office, and half a dozen strategic planning coordinators.  These six individuals will be assigned to oversee IT initiatives in key major program areas such as health and human services, education, government operations, criminal and civil justice, agriculture, natural resources, transportation and economic development.  In addition, the state will soon have a chief information security officer to help ensure the implementation of robust cybersecurity protections, along with a chief technology officer to ensure that the right technology decisions are made.

Finally, the new law establishes a Technology Advisory Council that will make recommendations on matters such as enterprise IT policies, standards, services and architecture.  The advisory body is also charged with providing input on how public-private partnerships (P3) should be considered in order “to accelerate project delivery and provide a source of new or increased project funding.”

Clearly the winds of change are blowing in the right direction in Tallahassee when it comes to how the state will more effectively manage over $733 million per year in IT spending.  It’s a step in the right direction that will maximize resources, save taxpayer dollars, and deliver more efficient and effective constituent services in the Sunshine State. 

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