IT reforms at forefront in Virginia

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's proposal to restructure information technology

management in the state government — part of a broader package of reforms

— will go before the General Assembly when it convenes this afternoon.

The reforms, which Warner announced Dec. 10, 2002, at a meeting of the

Southern Technology Council, will consolidate state IT functions within

one agency, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, resulting in the

removal of three existing agencies and two government oversight boards.

The biggest beneficiaries of the governor's proposals are the citizens

of Virginia, George Newstrom, Virginia's secretary of technology, said in

an interview this week. "The main focus is providing the citizens with better

services as well as save them a substantial amount of money," he said. "We

want services to be enhanced as well as save money to constituents."

The elimination of the Department of Information Technology, the Department

of Technology Planning and the Virginia Information Providers Network Authority

will not result in a net loss of jobs, Newstrom explained. "There are currently

2,000 jobs in technology. There will be 2,000 jobs when we are done," he

said.

By consolidating about $450 million in annual spending on IT, the state

seeks to generate savings by eliminating redundant activities and taking

advantage of the buying power of the state for computer hardware and software

purchases.

Along with agency consolidation and the attempt to achieve long-term

cost savings, Warner wants to provide increased opportunities for state

government IT employees. According to Newstrom, government employees will

benefit from the IT reform because the consolidation of the agencies will

"keep our employees at the forefront of technology."

The proposal will include the following opportunities for government

employees that are not readily available under the current system in Virginia's

state government:

* Training and retraining of employees to ensure that skills keep pace

with the changing nature of technology.

* Access to technology tools, resources and techniques.

* A professional focus that emphasizes customer service to both state

government agencies and Virginia's citizens.

If the proposal is approved, the legislation will go into effect July

1. "We will be poised and fully ready to implement by this date," Newstrom

said.

"This effort is one of the boldest in the country that I can see," he

said. "We are seeing a tremendous amount of curiosity from other states."

Caterinicchia is a reporting intern for Federal Computer Week.

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