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House passes IT consolidation bill

published 5/21/2011
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The approximately $361 million of information technology staff and systems spread out across the executive branch would be consolidated under a single agency, under a bill passed by the House.

Sponsored by Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina), HF191 would take IT personnel and operations spread out across numerous agencies and place them under the Office of Enterprise Technology. The goal is to save money, streamline services and improve the security and stability of critical IT infrastructure.

The House voted 116-16 to pass the bill. It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) is the sponsor. An identical version of the bill is contained in the omnibus state government finance bill (HF577/ SF1047*).

A study commissioned by the Legislature in 2009 found that consolidating IT functions could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually in operational, procurement and staffing costs. It determined that the state’s 38-40 data centers could be consolidated to just two or three; IT help desks could be combined for cost savings and improved service; and the state’s 1,812 full-time equivalent IT staff could be whittled down to 1,586.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) was among several members who opposed the bill. He expressed concern it might lead to outsourcing of services currently provided by state workers. Downey said earlier versions of the bill contained provisions that would have eased restrictions on outsourcing; however, he said they were removed.

“We’ve backed off substantially from the outsourcing components that I had originally envisioned,” Downey said.

- Nick Busse

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