States keep funding IT projects, despite deficits

Budget crises aren’t keeping state governments from moving forward with key IT projects, according to Input Inc., a Chantilly, Va., market research firm focused on government IT spending.

Input says in a report published Wednesday that state governments will continue to fund essential technology programs in 2003, despite facing billions of dollars in budget deficits. Simply put, states can’t risk delaying projects that affect public safety, the firm says.

“States cannot afford to put programs that are critical to constituent safety, such as public safety communication systems and health networks, on hold,” said Meredith Luttner, manager of state and local market development services at Input, in a statement. “States are compelled to solve fiscal problems without instituting cuts that threaten these important projects.”

The report digs into the spending intentions of three states: Virginia, New Jersey and California. It reviews their top IT priorities for the year, and highlights near-term projects slated for procurement.

In Virginia, despite a US$1.5 billion budget shortfall, the threat of program reduction is fairly low, according to Input.

Near-term projects for which Input expects to see requests for proposals (RFP) issued include: collocation services for disaster recovery and backup of Windows NT and Unix servers; an electronic archive system for the Department of State Police that stores data such as fingerprints and arrest reports; an intelligent transportation system required by the Virginia Department of Transportation; and vulnerability assessment services for the Department of Information Technology’s LAN/WAN network.

Consolidation also is on tap in Virginia. Governor Mark Warner this month proposed replacing three IT-focused state agencies and two boards with a single agency responsible for IT, Input says. A statewide plan for internal IT security also is in the works.

In New Jersey, a $5 billion budget deficit looms large. Some programs will be cut, but many top-priority projects involve IT and are still slated to go forward, according to Input. For example, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey has committed $66 million to new security initiatives; at least $25 million will go toward a better communications system for hospitals and emergency personnel, Input says.

Near-term projects for which Input expects to see RFPs issued include: wired telecommunications equipment, including call management and voice messaging systems, for all state agencies; an automated child-support enforcement system for the Department of Human Services; and construction and implementation of an enhanced 911 network.

California’s $34 billion budget deficit dwarfs those of the other two states Input studied. Program cuts will be required, Input says. Nonetheless, Input expects to see RFPs issued for the following projects in 2003: an information security program, including hardware and software, for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development; an automated child-support enforcement system for the Department of Human Services; and construction and implementation of an enhanced 911 network.

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