Pervasive underinvestment and neglected IT infrastructure is keeping Texas from functioning at its best capacity. Texas agencies are working with antiquated systems that can’t speak to each other and very few customer services are online. Cybersecurity is also a huge concern for state agencies, as they block 2.46 billion communication attempts from known bad actors every two months.
In 2020, 27 state agencies submitted funding requests totaling nearly $900 million to implement a total of 59 projects, which is a funding increase of 86% from the last biennium. It’s difficult for IT projects to compete with other priorities of the state and many of these projects are anticipated to go unfunded, which causes agencies to continue using antiquated systems. IT project planning often goes beyond the two-year legislative cycle and these strategies can lose funding or focus between different sessions. This results in a lack of data collection, use, and analysis to inform decisions for management, oversight, and transparency.
However, Texas has federal funding at its disposal and more is anticipated to arrive later this legislative session. In an effort to modernize and protect state information systems the following long-term investment solutions have been proposed:
HB 4017, the Joint Oversight Committee on Digital Transformation:
- This bill creates a committee to oversee the public investment in the state’s ongoing IT projects, similar to 84(R) SB 2004’s structure.
- A committee composed of six legislative members (three from the House, three from the Senate, with a Chair selected by the members of the committee) would produce reports to the legislature on the status of existing plans and make recommendations on future investments leveraging the project information collected by the Department of Information Resources (DIR).
HB 4018, the Technology Improvement and Modernization Account:
- This account would be overseen by the Department of Information Resources to improve and modernize state agency information resources, including legacy system projects and cybersecurity projects.
- It would consist of designated federal funds and could be used in emergency situations in between sessions so our state can respond to emerging needs and crises in a decisive manner.