A New Legacy System: Using Technology to Drive Performance

Report #193, November 2008


The Little Hoover Commission on Thursday urged the governor and the Legislature to empower the state chief information officer with the tools and resources necessary to enhance accountability and improve government performance using information technology.

In its report, A New Legacy System: Using Technology to Drive Performance, the Commission recommends consolidation of the state’s technology assets and personnel under the Office of the State Chief Information Officer.

During its study, the Commission found that the state’s severe fiscal crisis demands new ways to eliminate inefficiencies. The state, however, lacks the ability to harness data from its programs in a way that allows it to measure how effectively it uses its resources.

The Commission found that a strategy of data-driven decision-making requires a new way of deploying information technology. Despite the recent promotion of the state chief information officer to the governor’s cabinet, the Commission found that California’s technology governance structure remains outdated – developed in reaction to a fear of failure and past scandals, with oversight dispersed across the executive branch. To build confidence and accountability, the Commission recommends that California further empower a technology leader to oversee the on-going multibilliondollar upgrade of the state’s legacy systems.

The Commission found that a strong state chief information officer, given the appropriate authority, can ensure that the state does not simply replace aging data systems with new ones, but transforms the use of technology and data across state government – with the goal of improving government performance.

“It is time for the state to get past the Oracle scandal and focus on what technology can do to improve government,” Little Hoover Commission Chairman Daniel Hancock said.

In A New Legacy System: Using Technology to Drive Performance, the Commission recommends that the state:

  • Empower the state chief information officer with tools and resources to oversee a generational transformation of information technology in state government. The state must consolidate resources under the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, including the Department of Technology Services, the Office of Systems Integration, geospatial information functions and the information security functions of the Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection.
  • Use public money for technology projects responsibly and with transparency. To rebuild the confidence of the Legislature and the public, the process through which California’s technology projects are governed must be open and transparent. The Information Technology Council should expand to include legislative members as well as members from existing technology councils, and it should be empowered to prioritize overall technology projects for the state and aggressively monitor their implementation. The state chief information officer should regularly report on the progress of the state’s information technology projects through a more robust Web site.
  • Use technology to track, measure and improve performance. The state should encourage and foster the burgeoning development of performance measurement projects throughout state departments and agencies by re-establishing the technology innovation fund and creating opportunities to regularly integrate performance data into the state’s management and budgeting strategy. The governor should hold regular public meetings with agency heads to evaluate performance data.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are sent to the governor and the Legislature. To obtain a copy of the report, A New Legacy System: Using Technology to Drive Performance, contact the Commission or visit its Web site: www.lhc.ca.gov.