Under the Dome

Perdue asks for study of taking state IT private

Gov. Bev Perdue wants to take a look at privatizing parts of the state's IT operations.

In a memo to cabinet secretaries and executive branch agency heads, Perdue wrote that state spending on information technology accounted to more than $1.1 billion in fiscal 2009, and agencies under Perdue's control were more than half that total.

By August, Perdue's memo says, the state will be ready to ask a consultant to study the IT operations and make recommendations on how to save money and run things more efficiently. The idea was proposed by Perdue's budget reform commission.

"The goal is to move aggressively toward an improved IT infrastructure that will lower costs, reduce complexity and redundancy, improve the utilization of resources and increase security," Perdue wrote.

Chrissy Pearson, a spokeswoman for Perdue, said it's important to remember that no decisions have been made.

"I would caution anyone from thinking this is a done deal. This is a request to get information on how this might work," Pearson said. "Jobs remain on the top of the governor's list. While she is trying to trim the fat, she's not specifically looking to lose state employees for the sake of losing state employees."


Pearson said contracts could, for example, require that the private contracts keep some or all of the current IT employees.

To avoid conflicts of interest, the firm selected to study the IT operation would be banned from getting a contract or subcontract for taking over for the state.

The memo also says that a private contractor will play a role in developing a new state web portal.

The contents of the memo were reported Tuesday by InformationWeek.

IT memo.pdf


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First the state consolidates

First the state consolidates IT functions under ITS because of the lack of cohesiveness between the state's agencies computer systems, now the State wants to privatize ITS. But will there be any real cost savings, except in transferring State workers with benefits to contractor status with no benefits. I suspect privatization of State functions will be the least of Perdue's concerns as the Legislature grapples with a $3B shortfall in the coming biennial budget year. The Progressive Pulse whines that state spending is currently at 1996 levels. The last time I checked, the state's economy was booming in 1996, and the State Legislature was busy trying to spend a $2.4B surplus.

When spending returns to WWII levels, adjusted for population and rate of inflation, and before our federal government began their 70 year piling on of debt, of which we are now on the leading vertical edge, then we can start discussing how the money should be spent. All but essential services should be cut. What are essential services? That is a good question. Privatization of government operations is not the answer to the State's current budget plight, and indeed that of the nation. PRIORITIZATION is the key, and that is what the Governor is trying to avoid, shedding the generation of patronage in her Administration. Can't blame her for firing the budgetary warning shot across the bow to all State workers, but can't sympathize, either.

Bail out

Crissy Pearson is again cleaning up one of Perdue's messes.  Hard to decide whether Perdue or Pearson is in charge.

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