As Florida’s Agency for State Technology (AST) heads into its third year of existence, its IT operations grow more organized.
Gov. Rick Scott released his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year on Tuesday and it proposes almost $80 million in technology funding for AST, including new funding of $3.5 million for data center services and $6.6 million for security auditing and remediation. New legislation under review by the Florida Senate would create a new chief data officer role within the state and form a geographic information office. The recent activity indicates growing maturity for a state with a rocky technology past.
Launched in 2014, AST is the third incarnation of the state’s technology agency since 2005. That timeline includes a two-year run during which the state had no technology agency at all, following the decommission of the office before AST — the Agency for Enterprise Information Technology (AEIT). Though Florida state Chief Information Officer Jason Allison has been left playing catch-up, new enterprise powers granted to his office by the legislature are proving effective.
The state was forced to rush its data center move last year after discovering the old building was filled with environmental hazards such as mold and bat feces. The state now reports that its consolidation efforts are reflected in $2.2 million in savings in this year’s proposed budget. With one half of the governor’s offices having completed their security risk assessments, AST will use this year’s funding to study the other half.
“The governor is very supportive of what we’re doing and wants to continue to invest in a few key areas,” said Erin Choy, AST external affairs manager, adding that the state is happy with how this year’s budget looks. “I think we’ve been able to prove the last two and a half years the value of having a centralized organization to look at things from an enterprise-wide more streamlined approach.”
Florida Senate Bill 362, which would create a CDO position and GIS office, is headed into its first legislative committee on Tuesday. As AST now gets comfortable with an enterprisewide IT effort, the legislation poises the state for new capabilities and operational sophistication.
“Data is only valuable when it’s in a uniform and standard format,” Choy explained. “Right now, everything is saved in all different sorts of different manners. So this would give us an enterprise view and an inventory of what we have and really documenting to see where we can expose data to the public or to the private sector for innovation.”