Lawmakers pause IT consolidation in North Dakota

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IT consolidation is considered a top priority of state chief information officers, but lawmakers in North Dakota have asked the state’s IT office to pump the brakes on its own consolidation project after they say they learned of major projects advancing without their approval.

Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley said last week that he has paused consolidation efforts at the request of the state’s legislature, the Bismark Tribune reported, but that he believes the concern may be based on misunderstandings of what the project entails. In a Feb. 9 letter to Riley, legislators describe plans to move “216 or more employees from other agencies plus contract staff to the agency.” Some Republican lawmakers also raised concerns with the IT department’s plans to reallocate funding without consulting the legislature.

Riley, who oversees the state’s Information Technology Department of approximately 350 employees, told the Bismark Tribune that he was working to get the state’s IT resources “working in one direction” and that he was not aware of staff consolidation nor funding reallocation being part of the project

The letter, which was signed by House and Senate majority leaders Rep. Al Carlson and Sen. Rich Wardner, and chairman of the Legislative Management committee Sen. Ray Holmberg, cites concern with action by the IT office “without the appropriate legislative committees receiving adequate information and justification.” Riley says he has, however, reported to the interim Information Technology Committee, which provides oversight of IT services delivered to state agencies. (North Dakota’s interim legislative session convened following the closure of the regular session in April 2017.)

“These changes affect the security and delivery of services, as well as future costs, for both executive branch agencies and the legislative branch,” the legislators wrote.

Lawmakers also reportedly cited concerns with cloud vendor contract changes that violate the state’s open records and privacy laws, but Riley said he wasn’t aware of any changes related to the state’s cloud contracts.

Riley — who was appointed last year by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, an entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive — said he plans to clear up any misunderstandings with the state’s legislature in March.

A state spokesperson told StateScoop the technology office is not ready to talk about its consolidation progress but will be able to provide more information later this year.

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Careers & Elected Officials, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Doug Burgum, Information Technology Department, IT Infrastructure, legislators, Modernization, North Dakota, State & Local News, States, Tech News
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