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State’s IT service needs more consolidation, $3 million in cuts proposed

Minnesota IT Services, the state’s centralized computer and technology service, would face a requirement to finish previously designated consolidation efforts, along with $3 million in personnel cuts and greater legislative oversight under a bill held over Thursday by the House State Government Finance Committee.

HF2138, sponsored by Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia), as amended, projects to save the state money in future years but there would be an immediate $14.2 million expense, according to a Minnesota Management and Budget fiscal note. Its companion, SF2009, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

Nash’s proposal comes at a time when Republicans on the committee have put MN.IT front and center as an example of government inefficiencies and redundancies. It’s also a time where, with the state budget experiencing a projected $1.65 billion surplus, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend more on state computers and technology infrastructure.

Both Nash and MN.IT officials agree the bill is “aggressive” but “achievable.” Nash added that the measure builds on the “idea of MN.IT, which is absolutely correct” in consolidating state IT services.

WATCH The House State Government Finance Committee debates the bill 

“MN.IT is sort of in that awkward teenage phase and needs a little bit of parental guidance to move it along and make it take a shower every day and do the things we need it to do,” Nash said. “We’ve got to consolidate further.”

A $3 million reduction in personnel costs by June 30, 2019, and how the agency stores data are chief reforms included in the proposed legislation.

It would also direct the agency to finish consolidation efforts by the end of 2018, including reducing the number of physical data centers from 27 to six. Before 2011, when the Legislature directed the then-Office of Enterprise Technology to consolidate state technology efforts under one umbrella, there was a patchwork of technology services in each agency.

The bill would require a quarterly “comprehensive project portfolio” report from MN.IT to the Legislature.

“We do need to nudge them along, absolutely,” Rep. JoAnn Ward (DFL-Woodbury) said. “And I’m glad you’re able to do that and have an agreement that this is doable. We all need to be stretched. I think the delays have pretty much probably been human nature kind of things – resistance to change.”

Dayton’s spending plan includes $51 million in digital infrastructure and an additional $74 million in cybersecurity upgrades. Deputy Commissioner Jamie Oman said the goals of MN.IT, Nash’s bill and the governor’s spending increase all go hand-in-hand.

“A lot of what this bill outlines aligns with what our strategy is and what we’re trying to do,” Oman said.

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