Iowa Legislature poised to shortchange IT resources, CIO says

Iowa Legislature poised to shortchange IT resources, CIO says

By Wilson P. Dizard III

GCN Staff

APRIL 20—The Iowa Legislature appears likely to appropriate only 25 percent of the funds needed for core information technology projects next year, although a recent study said the state's IT efforts are already underfunded, Iowa's chief information officer told GCN.

Legislators have approved a core IT budget of $10 million; Gov. Tom Vilsack had requested $40 million, said Richard J. Varn, chief of Iowa's Information Technology Services.

Under a broader definition of state IT spending, which would include computing resources funded under other lines in the budget, the Legislature has approved $50 million of Vilsack's $80 million request, Varn said.

The CIO pointed to a recent study of Iowa's enterprise technology needs by the consulting firm RSM McGladrey Inc. that called for annual core IT spending of $81 million "to maintain an effective technology infrastructure."

The consulting firm said "many departments have not received enough funding to keep their technology consistent with current technical standards and are unable to support current user needs. This has created a significant inequity between departments in their ability to support technology needs."

Varn said the Legislature's proposed budget "underestimates what we need to convert our government from 18th-century methods of pen, paper, file cabinet and countertop to the computer systems we use in our everyday life."

The Iowa Legislature is set to adjourn next week.

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