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Oversight Committee Seeks to Strengthen Cybersecurity, Modernization

With ARPA funding set aside, the committee is to distribute monies to agencies seeking such solutions.

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More than 70 state agencies or commissions have submitted IT planning, looking toward a fund of $200 million for help with their IT modernization projects.

The money, from American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds, has been put into the Investment in Information Technology Improvement, Oversight Committee’s hands for distribution. The money is in the Technology Improvement and Modernization Fund, created under House Bill 4018 during the 87th Legislature.
Texas State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione.
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

The committee, also created under this bill, is chaired by state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-District 98. It comprises the chair and five members. They are state Sens. Bob Hall, Angela Paxton and Royce West; and state Reps. Matt Shaheen and Armando Walle.

Capriglione told Industry Insider Texas that he believes the state will be a leader in IT modernization.

“This is the state for innovation and technology,” he said. “Technology is a central part of the Texas economy.”

Capriglione sees modernization as a path to bring disparate data systems together and imbue technology with cybersecurity while providing modern features to Texas residents.

“I’m thankful to state leadership for recognizing the importance of technology upgrades and for supporting House Bill 4018,” he said during the committee’s Aug. 30 meeting. “The benefit of having this committee outside the normal appropriation process is that we can look across the board at different agencies, almost all agencies, and see where we can create efficiencies instead of looking at each agency in its own silo.”

“I think we’ve all learned through the COVID-19 pandemic how important it is to have updated technologies within our government agencies to assist our constituents with necessary services. And we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with what we can do.”

Under the guidance of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), 78 project plans valued at $338 million have been received. The committee is tasked with awarding money to help agencies begin their work.

DIR CIO Amanda Crawford said during the meeting that the agency has “a vested interest” in this process and plans to provide insight. She also said DIR is encouraging agencies to request funding not only here but to also include it in their legislative appropriations request (LAR) for the upcoming budget process.

Aside from data projects, rewrites or rebuilds, some planning is for one-time purchases. In addition, some are “potentially cloud based” to create scalability and to future proof them, Crawford said.

Those sharing planning or perspectives on planning at the meeting included the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and the nonprofit Texas 2036.
Rae D. DeShong is a Dallas-based e.Republic staff writer and has worked at The Dallas Morning News and as a community college administrator.