More work is needed to make Oklahoma's IT consolidation initiative a success

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: October 2, 2013
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An ugly secret of state government is that agencies make money off other agencies. This accounting practice can obscure the true cost of individual government agencies while financially rewarding service agencies for poor performance.

Officials with OMES say unusual factors forced higher spending at the Oklahoma Nursing Board. An OMES spokesman said savings were “never projected” for IT consolidation at the nursing board because the group's previous IT services were subpar, and did not include even basic security measures. Bringing the board's IT up to modern standards required increased spending.

To his credit, state Finance Secretary Preston L. Doerflinger, who heads OMES, acknowledges problems with the IT initiative, particularly on the service side. He's working to change the culture of the agency to eliminate those shortcomings. Overall, OMES officials say the consolidation is still saving taxpayer money.

Undoubtedly, some problems are unavoidable when making a change this size in multiple entrenched bureaucracies. But state officials must not allow a cost-cutting effort to turn into an expensive boondoggle that embeds inefficiency throughout state government.

We've supported IT consolidation. Ideally, it should reduce duplication in state government and lower costs. We're fans of Doerflinger and don't doubt his competence. We hope he succeeds in this effort, because much work clearly remains to make this initiative a success.

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