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Technology Reorg Plan passes into law, legislation addresses Little Hoover Commission concerns

The California State Legislature allowed Gov. Jerry Brown’s Reorganization Plan No. 2 to pass into law at Monday’s close, with the plan slated to be implemented no later than July 1, 2013.

The Reorg Plan, designed to reduce government waste and increase efficiency, will reduce the number of state agencies from 12 to 10. Five existing state agencies will be replaced by new agencies, including the Government Operations Agency, the Business and Consumer Services Agency, and the Transportation Agency.

The California Technology Agency is among the agencies targeted for changes and will now become the Department of Technology under the new Government Operations Agency.

The Little Hoover Commission, an independent oversight commission, held hearings about the plan in April and recommended that the legislature pass the plan while taking into consideration several concerns, including the change in the current cabinet-level status of the state CIO down to a non-cabinet-level position. While industry has raised concerns about the changes, current CIO and Technology Agency Secretary Carlos Ramos has expressed support for the plan, arguing that status will not matter.

"The authority to hold folks accountable, the authority to have an impact on the technology portfolio of the state, [it] isn’t related to a title," Ramos said at the April 24 hearing.

Commission Deputy Executive Director Carole D’Elia said today that the legislature conducted several hearings following the recommendations, ultimately deciding that the overall reorganization plan should move forward.

"They decided that they wanted the plan to go forward but they, like us, agreed that there were a couple of key areas that need fixes," D’Elia said today.

In response, four assembly bills and one senate bill, introduced earlier in the year, were reworked to address concerns, according to D’Elia. AB 1498, authored by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D- Alamo), suggests that the state CIO, which will become Director of Technology under the Reorg Plan, still maintain direct reporting responsibility to the governor on IT matters.

The bill also asks that the governor’s office develop a plan to move IT procurement authority from the Department of General Services to the new Department of Technology.

"This bill would state the intent of the Legislature that, as part of the planning required for implementing those provisions of the Governor’s Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 2012, a plan for transitioning information technology procurement authority from the Department of General Services to the Department of Technology be developed by the Governor or his or designee," the bill language states.

Sources have indicated that AB 1498 and other bills addressing concerns of the Reorg Plan will likely pass, with all five bills expected to be up in both houses as early as Thursday, according to D’Elia.

"It’s my understanding that the authors and other members of the legislation have been working with the administration, and what consultants have told me is that they expect the governor to sign the bills," she said.

“The plan we expect to implement will include the changes outlined in the package of bills (including AB 1498) we expect the Legislature to send to the Governor,” said Evan Westrup, spokesperson for Governor Brown, in an email.

“Governor Brown still needs a Cabinet Secretary for the new Operations Agency, and the state’s multi-billion dollar technology investment requires a strong chief information officer with a seat at the table with the Governor’s Cabinet team,” said John Thomas Flynn, outspoken plan critic and former state CIO, in a recent blog post. “The current state CIO and Tech Agency Secretary, Carlos Ramos, sounds like the perfect candidate and the best of both worlds.”