In a world where technology is seemingly everywhere, consequences of a security breach or shut down can be devastating to one’s day-to-day operations.
Most of us run security updates in hopes of maintaining a well-running device and keeping the bad guys at bay.
The state is no different.
Minnesota IT Services ensures state operations continue to work as they should — things like getting a driver’s or fishing license, securing a park permit or collecting unemployment. It provides enterprise and local IT services to more than 70 agencies, boards, and commissions.
“Bringing those digital experiences to Minnesotans requires an investment that is really, really crucial, and brings about an efficiency in government that is essential,” Commissioner Tarek Tomes told the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee at an informational hearing Thursday.
But, like most things, costs have gone up and so has the recommended total of state money used for this purpose in the Gov. Tim Walz’s budget request. This year’s requested budgetary increase for the 2024-25 biennium is $111.2 million.
“It certainly is a significant increase, but I think it comes from historic underspending,” Tomes said.
Officials noted, however, the agency number could be a bit misleading.
“What you see is an increase in direct funding that goes to MNIT for a more enterprise strategic approach to investing in application modernization," said Deputy Commissioner Jon Eichten. “In the past, those dollars have gone directly to agencies based on the applications they request. What the governor is proposing is that the IT organization prioritize what is most important and what those biggest opportunities are.”
Tomes said a “significant number” of applications in the state’s portfolio are more than a decade old.
“The ability to patch and secure right now requires building bigger walls and bigger moats, which is inefficient and ineffective,” he said. “Our ability to modernize those applications so that we can make sure the layers of defenses we put in place are crucial. … These are not MNIT items, they’re executive branch items and oftentimes they’re actually statewide items.”
How would some of the new 2024-25 biennial funding be used?
“Citizens want us to meet them where they are when it comes to services. … The consequences of not acting to modernize; the consequences of not adequately funding our IT funds are incredibly stark,” said Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove).