Oklahoma finds more savings in information technology consolidation than expected, legislative panel learns
Apr 13, 2012 (The Oklahoman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Savings from consolidating the state's information technology services may be substantially more than estimated, lawmakers were told Thursday.
Preliminary findings from agencies that were among the first to be consolidated are showing that savings came in nearly twice as much had been projected, Alex Pettit, the state's chief information officer, told members of the House of Representatives Government Modernization Committee.
"IT costs will continue to decrease with consolidation," he said. "What we said we were going to save, we're finding in reality is about double the number."
Savings for the state Education Department, first estimated at $100,000 a month, are coming in at nearly twice that level, he said, but it's too early to tell whether that level of savings can be achieved in other agencies.
Savings come by combining printing and computer desktop services and sharing information technology staff, he said.
Information technology staff transfers have been completed for 91 percent of 87 state agencies that receive appropriations from the Legislature, he said. The biggest savings have come in lowering personnel costs; about 130 information technology positions in the state have been eliminated through attrition.
"We still have to do transformation of their services," Pettit said. "That's going to take us some time."
A basic approach to consolidating virus and spam protection for the state's computers has generated larger than expected savings, Pettit said. Instead of paying $1 million a year to several vendors for virus protection software, the state now is buying one product from one vendor at a cost of about $180,000.
"That's a huge savings for the agencies," he said.
Several agencies still are leery of having their information technology services consolidated into a central system, he said. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Human Services are concerned about confidential client information, and the Indigent Defense System, the attorney general's office and the District Attorneys Council have similar concerns about sensitive legal information being released. Likewise, the Oklahoma Tax Commission is concerned about residents' personal tax information.
Pettit assured committee members that consolidating the information technology of agencies doesn't compromise privacy needs of the agencies.
Higher education is exempt from complying with information technology consolidation, which is in its second year.
Pettit said discussions are under way about state agencies shifting to the OneNet telecommunications and information network, which is a division of the state Regents for Higher Education. State agencies pay about $4.3 million a year to access the Internet through private fiber-optic cables, owned by several communication companies.
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