As the role of the chief information officer evolves, those new to the position must adapt to their changing responsibilities. One skill CIOs need is business analysis, so they can spot areas of inefficiencies and eliminate them, a practice that will save money. Nebraska CIO Ed Toner has only been on the job since June, but he has already positioned the state to save about $5.3 million over the next 10 years by merging statewide IT systems and services.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said Toner accomplished this by tweaking larger IT contracts and getting rid of redundant applications, StateScoop reports. He also insisted on more widely using the state’s data centers, resulting in a need for fewer state servers. One of Toner’s initial goals was to use the principles he learned as an executive at an Omaha-based IT firm to make the government operate similarly to private-sector companies.
“I wanted to see everything that was being spent and what I was seeing was duplication across the different agencies for the same types of tools, if not the same identical tool,” he told StateScoop.
One of Toner’s first initiatives as CIO was to assess the state’s systems, which led him to discover that the Office of the CIO — his domain — was among the agencies that were unknowingly wasting money.
Toner said the Office of the CIO and five other agencies were using different versions of a help desk tool that “couldn’t talk to each other,” forcing workers to go through a lengthy manual process just to create simple request for service.
Worse, Toner noticed that all these agencies were paying a separate license fee to use each version. As he explained to StateScoop: “Not only did I cut out the yearly license fee being paid by six separate agencies, I cut out the server that was hosting that application and the server maintenance being charged each year. Every few years we were going to have to refresh that technology, now there’s six servers out there that I’m not going to refresh.”
Toner’s other cost-efficient practices include maximizing buying power by merging each agency-level contract, consolidating vendor contracts and persuading 90 of the state’s 93 counties to move their servers to state data centers. He’s also come up with an 18-month plan for all 21 of Nebraska’s Cabinet-level agencies to transition to the data centers — a move he believes could save far more than the $5.3 million his current actions will result in.
This news coincides with an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report that claimed state governments can save up to $11 billion over the next five years by using technology. Toner and Nebraska are already following that advice.