Do we want Repubs in charge of government IT? Skip to content

Do we want Repubs in charge of government IT?

Will six leges actually be able to even understand everything in the state’s IT division, much less oversee it?

There’s a bill in this year’s legislative session that sets up six legislators as a review board for ALL the information technology work in state government.

HB 395 sets up a new board called the “Investments in Information Technology Improvement and Modernization Projects Oversight Board.” (I wondered if that awkward name was supposed to be some sort of cute acronym, but IIITIAMPOB doesn’t really roll off the tongue.)

According to the bill, the purpose of the board is to

  • Review investment and funding strategies for projects to improve or modernize state agency information technology systems, including:
    • Legacy system projects and cybersecurity projects; and
    • The current and ongoing operation and maintenance of state agency information resources;
  • Determine the appropriate organizational structure for deployment of technology across the Commonwealth; and
  • Review the latest information technology developments trending across the nation.

Hmm. So the remit of the board is not only to review improvement projects, but also current operations and maintenance. And, they get to determine the “appropriate organizational structure” of the state’s IT department.

In other words, they get to review and sign off on pretty much everything the Office of Technology does.

And get this: there are six members of this board. Three are chosen by the Speaker of the House, and three are chosen by the President of the Senate. AND, all must be currently serving legislators. Neither the governor, nor the Office of Technology, get to choose persons to be on the board. And all vacancies are filled by the leadership of the legislature.

Not meaning a slam against legislators, but I suspect there aren’t six that are actual IT experts. So how are they going to be capable of overseeing everything happening in the IT area, especially projects involving new technologies?

Oh, and get this: EVERY STATE AGENCY has to submit a plan outlining how that agency intends to “transition its information technology and data-related services and capabilities into a modern, integrated, secure, and effective technological environment.” And this plan is due by the end of September.

Is it possible this bill is well-intentioned? Sure. Is it also possible that this bill is another attempt by the Republican majority to take control of another part of state government? Absolutely. And the fact that only current legislators can serve on it, and the governor gets no say even though it directly affects the executive branch, makes it smell like the latter possibility.

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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