March 12, 2009

Assembly Proposes Cost-Saving Technology
Procurement Reforms for State Agencies

In order to bring needed change to technology purchasing practices in New York State and save taxpayers money, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Government Operations Committee Chair RoAnn M. Destito introduced an Assembly proposal that would drastically reduce the use of private technology contractors and consolidate agency Internet and email servers.

In addition, the Assembly plan would mandate that future Executive Budget proposals include separate line items detailing the use of private contractors and consolidate agency Internet and email servers. The proposal would mandate that the state develop a more efficient and cost-effective plan to set standards for technology purchases and improve technological communication between agencies.

"State agencies should always get the best value for every taxpayer dollar spent on technology," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Our proposal reduces waste and redundancy by limiting the state's reliance on outside consultants and setting clear guidelines for the most efficient technologies that can be purchased, so that agencies can best communicate with each other to carry out their necessary operations. By setting standards for the use of private consultants and increasing the compatibility of computer systems, New York will save much needed money in the coming year. Because our proposal will create substantial savings, we wish to see it as a part of the final budget."

"New York State is simply not getting sufficient bang for its buck when it comes to state purchasing, particularly in the field of technology," said Destito (D/WF - Rome). "By implementing common-sense budget and procurement reforms, leveraging technology to produce savings, and treating our state employees as partners and with the respect they deserve, we can save hundreds of millions of dollars annually over the next three to five years and increase the quality and value of state technology services at the same time."

Under the Assembly plan, by 2012, all state agencies that spend at least $15 million per year on outside information technology contractors would be required to reduce that amount by 50 percent-a savings of over $250 million over the next three years. The provision would require that state employees carry out much of the work currently performed by private technology consultants. All consulting services contracts would have to include a specific plan for training agency employees to eventually take over such responsibilities. Additionally, the proposal requires that the use and cost of private technology consultants be disclosed in the annual Executive Budget proposal.

The proposal would also require agencies to utilize centralized server and e-mail services through the state Office for Technology (OFT), unless they can demonstrate a need for independent communication systems. The consolidation of servers would help state agencies cut costs and preserve money for the General Fund.

Under the Assembly plan, the state Office of General Services would be required to produce a report by the end of 2009 to pinpoint where technological improvements and efficiencies can be made, including those that would ensure that software systems are compatible from agency to agency, and report in February of 2010 on new standards for aggregate purchasing and other procurement reforms. The Assembly plan would also mandate that the OFT produce a statewide technology plan, updated annually, to develop cross-agency technology standards and obtain the best possible value in interoperable software and hardware. The measure also includes provisions to allow New York municipalities to purchase technology commodities off of OFT contracts, for a savings of 20 to 40 percent over what they could purchase on their own.