States fit tech into strained budgets

INPUT: Projects Continue Despite Budget Strain

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As a sluggish economy and revenue shortfalls continue to plague state government

budgets, many governors are deciding how best to use limited funds for competing

priorities — and some are looking at technology as one answer.

Chantilly, Va.-based Input, a market research firm, released a report

today outlining how three states are grappling with funding their programs

and how they're planning to use technology.

California Gov. Gray Davis' administration probably faces one of the

largest deficits in the country — about $34 billion. A state resolution

has shifted responsibility for some programs, such as mental health services

and child and family programs, to the county level, saving the state government

about $8 billion.

Yet Davis is still making cuts as evenly as possible across agencies

instead of focusing drastic cuts in a few areas. And homeland security,

education and health care will continue to be funded well. Some upcoming

state information technology projects include:

* An information security program by the Office of Statewide Health

Planning and Development.

* An automated child support enforcement system by the Department of

Human Services.

* The design, construction and testing of an enhanced 911 system using

new technologies.

In Virginia, Gov. Mark Warner is "right-sizing" government by streamlining

agencies, the report said. For example, newly proposed legislation would

create a single IT agency and eliminate three existing IT-focused agencies

and two boards. Goals also include a statewide plan for network security

and streamlining external processes such as IT procurement and e-government.

As part of Virginia's homeland security initiative, plans are under

way for an incident management system to connect first responders to state

agencies.

Other upcoming projects for Virginia, which is facing a $1.5 billion

budget shortfall, include:

* Server consolidation services to provide backup for operations and

disaster recovery services.

* An electronic archive system to compile state police records, such

as fingerprints and arrest records.

* Vulnerability assessment services for the eventual certification of

a local-area/wide-area network.

New Jersey faces the largest budget deficit in its history — about

$5 billion — and Gov. James McGreevey is cutting spending and adding revenue.

Some top investments include $66 million for new homeland security initiatives,

including support of the state Office of Counter-Terrorism. At least $25

million will be reserved for a more effective emergency communications system

for hospitals and other first responders and another $3.5 million for a

hospital bioterrorism preparation program, the report said.

Other upcoming New Jersey technology initiatives include:

* Wired telecommunications equipment, including call management and

voice messaging systems, for all state agencies.

* Installation and maintenance of an automated child support enforcement

system.

* Design, implementation and testing of an enhanced 911 network.

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