Challenges We Face
Any organization where information technology is central to their operations faces challenges. The challenges California faces, even with its size and complexity, are, at their core, the same challenges any organization faces.
The scope and scale of California state government causes even seemingly simple projects to become large, difficult and complicated to implement and maintain. Large systems integration projects require significant experience, judgment, technical and management skills in addition to the ability to creatively think, plan and collaborate.
The state’s need to implement large IT projects is exceedingly important. In short, California must meet the challenge of developing project management talent and methodologies in order to meet its business needs.
Risk is inherent in all IT projects and the larger and more complex the project, the greater the risk. State governments in general, and California state government in particular, have reacted to risk by implementing layer upon layer of oversight. While oversight is necessary, it is insufficient if it perpetuates a culture that unrealistically seeks to eliminate risk. The state must accept that risk exists and work to effectively manage it by coupling strong project structures with rigorous project management and constructive engagement from oversight agencies.
Integrated IT governance requires state leaders to effectively and efficiently manage their organization’s use of technology to meet its business needs. The state must continue to develop robust, inclusive and transparent structures and processes for setting direction, establishing standards and principles, and prioritizing IT investments to leverage technology to improve business value and programmatic results.
As has been previously and widely recognized, the state is facing a serious challenge in attracting and retaining IT skills. The potential retirement of 57 percent of the state’s IT personnel in the next ten years requires immediate and comprehensive succession planning. This remains a pressing issue for agencies that are already experiencing a 10 to 15 percent vacancy rate.
The state must develop succession and workforce plans based on clear information on where skill shortages will occur throughout the state. In addition, the state needs to continually train state IT personnel to meet the changing technology environment.
Today, state IT assets reside in two central data centers and hundreds of peripheral data centers and computer rooms around the state. The level of disaster recovery ability varies from location to location. IT is vital to government operations, whether it is managing public safety communication systems or ensuring that checks are being mailed to California’s most vulnerable residents, the state must ensure that IT assets are secure and available.