Arkansas looks to data center consolidation to lower the cost of government

Technology can create huge cost savings in government. IT leaders in Arkansas hope an upcoming data center consolidation will do just that.

Data center consolidation could bring Arkansas “big cost savings,” according to Yessica Jones, who is serving as deputy director of the Department of Information Systems in an interim capacity following the resignation of Mark Myers on Nov. 23.

The consolidation project is on-track and ready to proceed, a DIS spokesperson shared with StateScoop. The consolidation, however, is not the only way the state can lower the cost of government, Jones said in September.

“First of all — contracts,” Jones said. “We’re trying to negotiate contracts and trying to get the best price for our state by working to bring savings to our state.”

The department is also looking at automation — both in the data center and at other operational processes inside the department — to free up workers who can then devote their time to other tasks.

On the workforce as a whole, Jones said the state is looking to “take a deep dive” on attracting and retaining a talented workforce for the state’s IT shop.

“[It’s] all the way from advertising to how we interview and how we onboard these [new employees],” Jones said. “It’s impossible to compete with the private sector, so we’re working on strategic planning and that’s one of my initiatives on workforce development.”

Workforce attraction and retention will be included in the state’s upcoming IT strategic plan, which will touch on cybersecurity, procurement and how the agency’s culture will advance.

“We’re starting from the ground,” Jones said. “We’re going to find the purpose of the agency again. We’re redefining our values and I’m excited, because I think it’s going to make a big difference in the agency and in the employees.”

The strategic planning effort should conclude soon, Jones said, and if all goes well, it will help improve agency culture by giving a clear idea of where the department is going.

“I’m hoping that whenever we communicate all this to our employees, they can see where our direction is taking us,” Jones said. “That’s the vision we have, where we’re heading and the culture will start changing, Not overnight — it’s going to take time, but I’m excited.”