Florida Seems Poised to Bring Back its State CIO’s Office — Will it Work this Time?

After a two-year hiatus, there’s momentum among Florida’s elected leaders to bring back the state’s technology agency and rehire a CIO. The move is predictable. Since 2005, the state has pulled the plug twice on the office — and this would be the second time it’s revived.

But government departments are not interchangeable widgets. The stops and starts have left Florida with a patchwork of technology that some say isn’t what it should be. Others fear that Florida is falling behind as other states push forward with large-scale enterprise projects that utilize cloud computing and other scalable technology.

Florida has been left to play catch-up by trying to once again restart its fledgling statewide IT agency, which some lament wasn’t all that effective in the first place. In the meantime, state agencies, local governments and the companies that provide services to Florida all are waiting to see what will emerge from new legislation that aims to create an Agency for State Technology, replacing the defunct Agency for Enterprise Information Technology (AEIT).

The state’s history suggests that it could take years for Florida to build back what has been lost. Even so, the tech community seems guardedly optimistic that the state finally is heading in the right direction. But there is a lot of work ahead to get everyone on the same page.

As of mid-March, bills under review in the Florida House and Senate would appropriate $4.8 million for the new agency and fund 25 staff positions, nine more than the old AEIT.

The Senate version of the bill is from state Sen. Jeremy Ring, a former Yahoo executive who is among the growing chorus of lawmakers who say Florida must do a better job of managing its $733 million in annual technology spending and high-priced projects such as the state’s unemployment assistance system.

“We’re a $75 billion business without a chief information officer,” Ring said this year, according to The Miami Herald. “That doesn’t exist in any business, I assure you. Nor should that exist in any governmental entity.”

David Taylor, Florida’s CIO during AEIT’s five-year run (pictured at left), says a new Agency for State Technology would be an “incremental” step forward.

Unlike past efforts, the legislation would give the CIO management authority over the state’s primary data centers, including the Southwood Shared Resource Center, Northwood Shared Resource Center and the Northwest Regional Data Center. Data center consolidation was a point of contention when AEIT was — For more information read the original article here.    

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