IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Legislative Adviser Looks at State’s Role in Tech

A new report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office scrutinizes “Key Fiscal and Policy Issues Facing California,” including how the state can advance technological innovation while addressing disparities.

A series of large bright blue chevron-style arrows from left to right across the image, all pointing to the right. Black background.
A new report from a longtime advisory organization to state lawmakers examines long-term fiscal and policy issues confronting California — including the state’s role in technology.

Key Fiscal and Policy Issues Facing California, released Wednesday by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), examines “key factors affecting the current and future well-being of Californians with an eye towards possible legislative actions,” with a focus on longer-term issues that don’t usually change year to year. The office has offered nonpartisan fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature for more than 80 years. Here, it examines three main areas: economic growth and opportunity; health, safety and well-being; and fiscal health, governance and oversight — using the first and third to look more closely at the state’s role in technology. Among the takeaways:

  • What the LAO calls the state’s “technology-driven information industry” now adds the highest value of any industry in the state to California’s gross domestic product, it says. Tech is also transforming industries like clean energy and life sciences and is of benefit to state work to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and to improve the health of residents. Technology’s rise, however, has lifted the expectations of residents, who expect state government operations, programs and services to be just as convenient and responsive as anything in the private sector. Their preferences are informing state work on making government more effective and efficient, the LAO writes, indicating state government IT systems and tech are vital to successfully implementing laws, policies and procedures — and often integral to the execution of essential government programs and services. State tech spend has risen as well, but challenges of staff hiring and retention; of maintaining cybersecurity; and of modernizing “decades-old technology” without disruption remain.
Key legislative considerations, according to the LAO, include:

  • How California can advance technological innovation while addressing disparities. Per the LAO, equitable growth and opportunity from tech may require legislative investment in and prioritization of infrastructure projects — a current example being the recent investments in broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas.
  • How the state can modernize and stabilize its gov tech effectively. With IT systems and technology becoming ever more central to state government, how they’re planned, developed and implemented is a key area for legislative oversight. Integrating modern tech into state operations effectively and efficiently may require lawmakers to evaluate state planning and procurement processes, and/or simplifying state laws, policies, and regulations that inform system requirements and tech needs.
  • How the state can mitigate the harms and risks of technological change. Doing so via new policy and regulation, says the LAO, merits legislative consideration. Deciding on appropriate safeguards around certain technologies may require lawmakers to pay for research on harms and risks of new technologies like, for example, artificial intelligence.
  • What role California should play in supporting new technologies and preparing for changes. Changes that will or may impact the economy and labor market include climate change adaptation, the role that artificial intelligence will play across all sectors, and the increasingly digital labor marketplace. A possible role or capacity for the state is taking steps to retrain workers disrupted in their jobs by new technology; paying for local efforts to prepare for climate change; or charting career pipelines to emerging but uncertain labor fields.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.