- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal for next year assumes more than $20 million will be saved from a recommended consolidation of computer maintenance work across most state agencies into one office.

The governor wants to create a new Office of Technology Services in the 2014-15 fiscal year under the oversight of Jindal’s Division of Administration. The initiative will be up for legislative consideration in the regular session that begins March 10.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, Jindal’s chief budget adviser, said a consolidation of the technology staff and contracts for all cabinet departments into one state agency would help cut costs for hardware and software purchases and maintenance work.

She said the merged technology operations will allow for a centralized help desk, one location for mainframe equipment and other data consolidations.

“There’s perhaps no area of state government that I think is more critical to look at in terms of the way that we can manage the service and make it more accessible to our customers and make it more efficient,” she said.

Nichols told lawmakers that about 825 workers would be moved to the technology services office, with a realignment of job responsibilities over the next budget year. The new office would be budgeted at $280 million, charging agencies various rates for services to cover its costs.

“In essence, we’re going to run government like a business with respect to IT services,” she said.

She said the restructuring wouldn’t include layoffs, but she expected some current employees would retire or resign amid the transition. However, she told lawmakers that she expected no interruption in computer services.

“There is no desire or intention to do layoffs. Will we restructure? Yes. Will people potentially be in different jobs? Yes,” Nichols said. “The effort’s not being done to do layoffs or to cut personnel. We’ll see a lot of that through attrition and retirements.”

A Division of Administration spokesman said the Jindal administration will be pushing a bill that would set the operating parameters and regulations governing the new technology services office.

Louisiana has spent nearly $100 million since 2007 on a computer modernization effort that so far has been rolled out for the state’s wildlife, coastal restoration, environmental quality, natural resources and transportation departments. State agencies that deal with payroll, real estate management and purchasing also are using portions of the new software system.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide