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Profiles in Government: State Finance Continues IT Modernization

The California Department of Finance, which among its many responsibilities prepares the state budget, is underway on a significant technology refresh.

California Capitol building.
California Capitol building.
This story is limited to Industry Insider — California members.
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For some, the California Department of Finance may be most closely associated with creation of the annual state budget; but behind its public-facing mission, a comprehensive technology modernization is ongoing.

Fast Facts
Leadership: Department Director Joe Stephenshaw was appointed July 1 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, following the departure of Keely Martin Bosler, who had been director since September 2018. Stephenshaw had been senior counselor on infrastructure and fiscal affairs in the Office of the Governor since late March, and he had previously been staff director for the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee since 2017. Chief Information Officer Wesley Major is a 30-year veteran of state service and has held his current role since 2008. Find his Industry Insider One-on-One interview from June here.

Budget: $99.9 million, with rounding.
Total staff: 384, 40 of whom work in Information Services.

The state department charged with serving as Newsom’s “chief fiscal policy adviser” and promoting “long-term economic sustainability and responsible resource allocation” per its website, spearheads creation of California’s annual budget, and is every bit as tech-forward as you might expect.

Founded in 1921 by state Senate Bill 876, with “dozens of other departments,” the California Department of Finance (DOF) has historically had many responsibilities that are today the purview of separate departments or agencies — including General Services, Food and Agriculture and Transportation. As recently as 1945, DOF still oversaw property acquisition, and state fairs and expositions. The department has 384 staff, 40 of whom — or about 10 percent — work in Information Services.

When he spoke to Industry Insider — California in June, DOF CIO Major said roughly 85 percent of its legacy business processes had been “digitally transformed” and his focus would be on “increasing our cloud-based services footprint to host applications in the cloud that we develop in-house along with continually increasing our cybersecurity posture.” The department listed key accomplishments in IT modernization and improvement during the past three years in an email to Industry Insider:

  • Migrating “mission-critical” apps to “the Microsoft Office 365 SaaS service (e.g., MS Exchange, SharePoint, and Teams) platform.
  • “Various major changes” in Legislative Information System (LIS) and eBudget.
  • Migration of the Finance and (State Public Works Board) SPWB website to WordPress.
  • Phase 1 of migrating the eBudget system to the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
  • Development and cloud deployment of the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF) application.
  • Expanded use of (virtual private network) VPN connectivity for all DOF staff.
  • Deployment of Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager to manage all DOF IT devices.
IT projects or initiatives completed during the last six months include moving DOF “user desktop security” to Microsoft Defender for Cloud security; completing a Fortinet endpoint detection and remediation (EDR) project; and a NetSkope Cloud Protection project, the department said. At September’s California Digital Government Summit, hosted by Government Technology magazine*, DOF received a Best of California award for Best Application Serving the Public category for its SFRF application.

Major IT projects or initiatives on the horizon during 2023 include, the department told Industry Insider:

  • Migrating DOF server apps to Microsoft Azure platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
  • Phase 2 of migrating the eBudget system to the Azure cloud.
  • Migrating all public-facing apps to the cloud, including Redevelopment Agency Dissolution (RAD), Trailer Bills, Budget Change Proposal (BCP) Posting, and Training Registration, as well as DOF and SPWB sites.
  • Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) desktop and soft phone implementation.
*Government Technology magazine is a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.