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Ongoing IT Spend Possible in New State Budget Cycle

Several state entities are already underway on technology modernizations and cybersecurity hardening and may seek additional funding during the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget cycle, which begins next month.

Night view of the California state Capitol in Sacramento.
With about a month remaining until California’s chief executive will release his annual proposed state budget, two things are clear: Per the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a significant deficit is expected; and, according to previous change proposals, ongoing tech spend is likely.

A timely budget delivery is in the state Constitution, which mandates Gov. Gavin Newsom present his 2024-2025 fiscal year proposed budget to lawmakers by Jan. 10. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office on Thursday delivered “The 2024-25 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook,” estimating the Legislature will confront a $68 billion budget deficit next year. (This follows the roughly $32 billion shortfall that officials had to resolve in crafting the FY 2022-23 budget.) That being said, state IT is here to stay, and numerous IT projects as we’ve reported here and here might be expected to ask for and receive funding in FY 2024-25. Others may follow suit:

  • The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) submitted a budget change proposal (BCP) seeking $87.2 million in one-time budget authority to continue implementing the Pension Solution Project during FY 2023-24, an ongoing modernization of its legacy pension administration system. The new system is BenefitConnect and is expected to be more responsive, improve operational efficiencies and internal controls, and enhance member services. CalSTRS received the funding sought in its portion of the enacted FY 2023-24 state budget. CalSTRS’ “path forward strategy,” it said in the BCP, is to continue integrating internal resources while selecting a new system implementation vendor to do the project — at which point, once costs are refined, it will update its project schedule. Following this, it will submit a BCP during the FY 2024-25 budget cycle and “true-up any changes to the 2023-24 one-time cost estimate of $87.2 million as part of the budget to complete the project.” (Numbers are rounded.)
  • The State Water Resources Control Board submitted a BCP seeking 19 permanent positions and $4.7 million for Water Supply Strategy Implementation. A modernization of regulatory structures and staff expansion is needed, it said, to enable the board to assess, permit, fund, and implement projects at a suitable pace for the ongoing climate emergency — including refreshing data and physical infrastructure to ensure the protection of water supplies. The board’s share of the FY 2023-24 enacted budget shows the request was approved. However, in FY 2024-25, the board indicated it anticipates needing another nine positions and $2.3 million, as well as an “ongoing spending authority” of $6 million starting in FY 2025-26 to continue supporting 28 positions.
  • The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) submitted a BCP seeking $5.8 million in FY 2023-24 for year three project costs of a Transportation System Network Replacement. The new system will let Caltrans meet federal and state mandates requiring it to have a safety data system and will meet the department mission of providing “a safe and reliable transportation network that serves all people and respects the environment.” It will also enable a variety of integrations, data storage and analysis. The project appears to have received at least $1.2 million in Caltrans’ enacted budget for FY 2023-24. However, work on the project is expected to continue in FY 2024-25, according to the BCP, which indicates a planned ask of $3 million for that fiscal year.
  • The California Victim Compensation Board (VCB) submitted a BCP seeking $877,000 in Restitution Fund monies and four positions in FY 2023-24 to implement and maintain increased cybersecurity capabilities. It received this, noted as “Information Technology Staff,” in the enacted budget. But in that BCP, VCB also sought $789,000 and four positions in FY 2024-25 and ongoing. The funding, an annual need beginning in FY 2024-25, will enable it to improve IT security, comply with the state’s Cal-Secure roadmap, safeguard victim information and comply with laws and regulations.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.