Legislative leaders questioning ITD changes

Feb 20, 2018

Legislative leaders are asking for clarification and more information from the state’s Information Technology Department on changes either underway or in the works for ITD.

A letter from the chairman of the Legislative Management Committee and the two Republican floor leaders raises concerns about – among other things – ITD’s plans to add 216 or more employees from other state agencies that have information technology responsibilities; reclassifying 5 positions in ITD to make them administrative and unclassified; reallocating funding from other state agencies; moving the state to a “cloud” computing environment; and committing the state to some contractual obligations without Legislative approval.

"We appreciate the fact that ITD is taking a look at how we deliver services in state government," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "That's excellent, and they should continue to do that. It's just we're hearing about changes being made before the next session."

Wardner wants chief information officer Shawn Riley to report to the Legislature’s interim IT committee, and to the budget section.

"We'd like to know what's going on," Wardner said.

In an interview, Riley said he’s glad to appear before those committees and talk about the plans.

"We simply were in the midst of a vast change-management process," Riley said. "As we do that, we have communication lapses."

Riley said ITD is – as he put it – “enabling the vision of reinventing government.”

"What we really want to be able to do is realign all the folks who are doing technology work together, and realign the work efforts they're doing, so we can be as effective as we possibly can be," Riley said. "We have a lot of places across the Cabinet where we have redundancies, and we're trying to eliminate those."

Riley said this only affects cabinet agencies – and he believes the Legislature gave ITD enough leeway to make some of these changes. He also said that 216 employee number is an estimate – he doesn’t yet have a hard number, and he's not proposing any new hires.

"These are people who are already doing this," Riley said.

Riley said he’s also not aware of any significant changes to any contracts.