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State IT Leaders Talk Budget, Cloud and AI at First Member Briefing

Scott McPherson, former CIO of the Florida House of Representatives, and Martin Stevens, CIO of the Department of Environmental Protection, met with members followed by a Q&A in Tallahassee this week.

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Mike Driessen and Martin Stevens at Industry Insider — Florida member briefing.
Photo taken by Cristina Carter.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30 Industry Insider — Florida had their inaugural, members-only briefing featuring Senior Fellow Scott McPherson and CIO of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Martin Stevens.

DEP is tasked with protecting the state's natural resources and improving water quality. Industry Navigator* estimates DEP's budget at $3.9 billion total, with a $149.6 million IT budget. According to the department’s website, it has more than 2,900 full-time and 1,300 other personal services employees.

The following are key takeaways from the Jan. 30 presentation.

Martin Stevens, DEP:
  • Stevens talked about cloud infrastructure in place throughout the department: “Seventy to 80 percent of the 120-plus apps are already in the cloud.”
  • He also discussed the modernization of the electronic document management system and what DEP is seeking in terms of vendor procurement. The department is aiming to hold more one-on-one time with vendors before procurement.
  • On IT workforce issues, DEP is looking to increase salaries to match competitors and is looking to improve retention amid the ups and downs of department updates.
  • He also touched on how DEP plans on using AI in the future. Whether it be through the updated call center replacement or cybersecurity, the department's staff "do plan on using AI" instead of resisting it.

Scott McPherson, Center for Digital Government* senior fellow:
  • McPherson explained how IT is funded in state government, highlighting how the process hasn’t changed since the 19th century.
  • He went on to state that the current IT function structure coordinates with the pace of innovation: “More proven funding models the Legislature authorized such as Y2K and cloud migration are needed.”
  • He also talked about the different types of funding models needed to spur innovation and push Florida IT forward: “An innovation fund could maintain legislative controls while pushing innovation forward.”

*The Center for Digital Government is a sister organization to Industry Insider — Florida.
Cristina Carter is a Tallahassee-based staff writer. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's degree in international affairs, both from Florida State University.