• Gov. Brown Re-Org Plan, Including Cal Tech Agency Downgrade, Scheduled for Little Hoover Commission Review April 23-25

    April 12th, 2012 by admin Categories: Blogs Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    The Little Hoover Commission (LHC) will take up its statutory obligations later this month to review and make recommendations on Governor Brown’s proposed government reorganization plan which was submitted to the LHC on March 30, 2012. The way California government re-org’s work, LHC has until the end of April to review the plan and issue its recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. Then regardless of the LHC recommendations, the plan could go into effect unless a majority in either the Assembly or the Senate reject it within 60 days of receiving the LHC’s report.

    The three days of LHC hearings will cover the issues and effected department/agencies mentioned in the re-org plan including the one most germane to the state government IT and vendor community. That of course is the Governor’s recommendation to downgrade the California Technology Agency from a unique Cabinet Agency, into a new Government Operations Agency along with other strategic departments like General Services and State Personnel [Italics: JTF]. This issue will be taken up on April 24th beginning after a lunch break according to the LHC calendar.

    TechLeader.TV and others, especially TechAmerica, one of the leading voices for the technology vendor community, have been quite vocal in their disappointment at the Governor’s proposal. If this re-org becomes a reality, and unfortunately there is little hope that it will not, it will reverse the establishment of the Cabinet level Technology Agency, a battle that has taken the State and three Administrations a decade and a half to organize, empower and centralize state IT operations.

    Scheduled testimony will be taken from Technology Agency Secretary Carlos Ramos and TechAmerica’s Carol Henton among others. I have also been invited. As some may recall, I testified the last time the LHC took up the state’s IT re-org plan in 2008 when it was considering  Governor’s Schwarzenegger’s plan to consolidate major data center and telecommunications infrastructure under the new cabinet agency headed by the state CIO.

    Given the LHC’s strong approval of the IT consolidation and establishment of the CTA as a cabinet agency in these previous reviews it is difficult to see how they can reverse that opinion now. Stranger things have happened but I don’t foresee the LHC approving Gov. Brown’s downgrading scheme for the Technology Agency. TechAmerica and I along with most likely a slew of IT vendors will certainly be fighting to prevent this. Ironically, the primary testimony in favor will come from the person most affected. Secretary Carlos Ramos will undoubtedly fulfill his role as officials in previous Administrations have, including yours truly, by public supporting the governor’s recommendation in spite of any personal reservations. Carlos’ role will be kind of like Tom Sawyer attending his own funeral, but without the happy ending.

    Even with a re-org disapproval from the LHC, the legislature is under no obligation to overrule the Governor. There is expected to be some discussion particularly by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan who has filled a long vacuum, taken a very up front role in the terms of state technology developments.  She had previously announced plans to take up the proposed reorganization plan in her Budget Subcommittee 4 on April 24th. We have learned that she now plans to postpone that hearing under after the LHC meets.

    There have been some other recent developments since the Governor’s re-org plan went to the LHC. As Techwire.net reported earlier this month, TechAmerica representatives met with senior staff in the Governor’s office:

    In February, TechAmerica raised concerns about the plan…The association suggested possible negative consequences from eliminating the California Technology Agency by placing it under the new Department of Technology and changing the state CIO position from its current cabinet status. The letter stated that the CIO should remain a cabinet-level position so that the position remains on an equal level with the other cabinet-level officials the CIO must work with.

    Our sources tell us that this suggestion that the CIO should remain a cabinet-level position was flatly rejected, with the only palliative offered by the Governor’s staff would be that the new Department of Technology would be directed by the State CIO who would still retain responsibility for statewide IT budget and policy as currently resides in the California Technology Agency.

    However, this Administration has been sending a cascade of unmistakable signals that IT is neither a priority nor a strategic asset for making government more efficient, and cutting operating cost through various enabling technologies. Brown’s most notable initiative to date relating to technology involves confiscating cell phones, this in the era of mobility. They are burying the California Technology Agency within a utilitarian “government operations” bureaucracy that will also oversee such dynamic state functions as building and fleet management, HR, procurement and administrative law. This in a state that boasts of its Silicon Valley. Deplorable…




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