Okla. information officer discusses technology functions, consolidation of information systems

By Tim Talley, AP
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Okla. information officer discusses technology

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s first chief information officer said Monday the state has made “a tremendous investment” in computers and technology that can serve as the backbone of a consolidated network of services Oklahomans can access to stay informed about government services.

But Alex Pettit, named to the job last month by Gov. Brad Henry, told members of the House Government Modernization Committee it will take time for him to understand the technology state agencies already have in place and how they can be consolidated to reduce costs.

“I can’t give you a road map today,” Pettit told lawmakers during his first day on the job. “There’s a number of opportunities that I’m interested in pursuing.”

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said the goal is to develop a long-term strategy for consolidating information technology services at state agencies, find the most efficient use of resources and personnel and reduce costs.

“The buck’s got to stop with someone,” Murphey said.

Officials estimate Oklahoma employs about 1,500 people who support information technology and spends more than $340 million on the service each year, not including personnel costs.

Legislation approved last year that created Pettit’s position also included recommendations from legislative studies that looked at ways to improve information technology services.

The measure requires Pettit to assess the state’s information technology operation and prepare a comprehensive plan identifying areas in state government where technology infrastructure and applications can be shared.

State officials expect to spend at least 15 percent less on information technology and telecommunications after the statewide plan is implemented.

Before Pettit was hired, Oklahoma was one of four states in the nation that did not have a chief information officer.

“Oklahoma is no longer behind the curve when it comes to streamlining its IT services,” said Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, author of the legislation.

Pettit, a former technology consultant in Denton, Texas, who served as chief technology officer for the city of Denton for 10 years, said his goal is to improve and upgrade services while minimizing disruptions to those who use the system.

Pettit will be paid $160,000 a year.

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