California Dreamin': Cut IT By $1.5B But No Job Losses - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
1/26/2009
09:07 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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California Dreamin': Cut IT By $1.5B But No Job Losses

Hey -- you think you've got a tough job? How would you like to oversee 8,000 to 10,000 IT workers, 130 CIOs, and a budget of about $3 billion? That's the state of California's IT sprawl, where CIO Teri Takai is charged with cutting $1.5B in costs over five years without reducing headcount. I respect the challenge, but the no-layoffs plan is sheer lunacy.

Hey -- you think you've got a tough job? How would you like to oversee 8,000 to 10,000 IT workers, 130 CIOs, and a budget of about $3 billion? That's the state of California's IT sprawl, where CIO Teri Takai is charged with cutting $1.5B in costs over five years without reducing headcount. I respect the challenge, but the no-layoffs plan is sheer lunacy.Over the years the state has allowed its IT operations to grow at a runaway pace but now, in the grip of a brutal financial crisis, California is looking to cut spending across all portions of its massive bureaucracy. In IT alone, four autonomous agencies had been created and the current plan is to reorganize them into one agency under Takai. Those four (and get your scorecards out) are the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, the Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection's information security operations, the Department of Technology Services, and the Department of General Services' telecommunications division.

So let's do the math: CIO Takai hopes to save $1.5B over five years, or an average of $300 million per year. With an annual IT budget of $3B, that means savings of about 10% per year. Well, I'm sorry but that's a pathetically low goal, especially when starting from such a massively bloated base. I got most of these figures from a recent story in Government Computer News that said the four combined IT organizations will have somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 employees. Does that mean the state doesn't even know how many IT employees it has? And even if it knows the precise number, how can the top CIO say that they'll push those massive bureaucracies together without reducing the number of workers?

And how could that mess have been created in the first place -- where was the adult supervision when some irresponsible people proposed, got approval for, and created this megasprawl of four separate IT units? Oh, wait, I get it -- since California has five Major League Baseball teams, they figured they need four autonomous IT organizations to run the state. Yep, makes perfect sense.

The agencies affected include: the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, the Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection's information security operations, the Department of Technology Services, and the Department of General Services' telecommunications division. The ongoing approval process is about as detailed as the air-flow plans for a nuclear power plant so I'll skip those for now with a promise to share additional chapters of this fairy tale in the future.

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