Pennsylvania’s tech office opposes IT restructuring bill, again
Pennsylvania state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill last week introduced a bill that would restructure the state’s Office of Information Technology and create a unified spending mechanism for technology across the commonwealth. According to a spokesperson for OIT, the office is opposed to it.
The restructuring bill has been introduced several times — in 2017, 2019 and 2021. This year’s version of the bill would make OIT, which is currently housed within the state’s Office of Administration, a standalone office under the commonwealth’s executive branch. It would also establish a single Information Technology Fund that would pay for all IT procurements in the state.
In a news release on her website, Phillips-Hill said the bill is the result of public testimony to review best practices in other states and feedback from former state Chief Information Officer John MacMillan, who stepped down last October. (The state has yet to appoint a permanent replacement for MacMillan. Patti Chapman, the commonwealth’s former director for IT procurement, has been serving as acting CIO since November.)
MacMillan testified against the bill in 2021 during a state Senate Communications & Technology Committee hearing, critiquing the legislation as “overly prescriptive” because it would limit the office’s flexibility.
During his testimony, MacMillan said his office’s approach to shared IT services allowed the Office of Administration to manage the supply of IT staff and resources to meet the demands of state agencies, which fluctuate. And steering committees, he said, decide where to place those resources, allowing for the most flexibility to respond to the changing demand.
The bill would silo all of this decision making under the director of the new IT department.
The Information Technology Fund would also see the IT budgets for all state agencies moved under the new IT office. MacMillan estimated that these responsibilities would increase the Office of Administration’s IT costs by as much as $25 million annually.
“Our concern is that SB 482 would undermine our ability to be nimble enough to effectively manage the commonwealth IT enterprise and cybersecurity,” MacMillan said in 2021.
Neither Phillips-Hill’s office nor Gov. Josh Shapiro returned requests for comments on the bill. Dan Egan, director of communications for the Office of Administration and OIT, told StateScoop the technology division remains opposed to the restructuring.
“The Administration opposes the bill as written. If passed, the legislation would effectively lock OIT into an organizational structure that would require an amendment to make any changes, making it much more difficult for the department to quickly adapt when needed,” Egan wrote in an email. “We also have concerns about its potential to constrain our ability to update policies or take other actions in response to real-time changes in the technology industry or cybersecurity threat landscape. Finally, the bill infringes upon the authority of the executive branch and brings added costs.”
Egan said the Office of Administration hopes to work with Phillips-Hill on its concerns about the bill, which is currently being considered by the state Senate’s Communications & Technology Committee.