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IT unification saves millions and enhances cybersecurity

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

State CIO comments on unification importance at House committee

OKLAHOMA CITY — State agencies are more efficient and better protected when information technology is unified under one umbrella, state Chief Information Officer Bo Reese told legislators today.

“There really are no bounds to what we can do when we have unified agencies willing to collaborate,” Reese told the House Government Modernization Committee.

Unification, legislatively mandated by HB 1304 in 2011, partners agencies with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to streamline and consolidate IT efforts. Reese also responded to questions regarding legislative efforts this year to exempt agencies from unification by saying such action would in the long run cost Oklahoma money and risk the security of citizens’ data.

Governor Mary Fallin said she agreed with Reese.

“Any legislation that unwinds or puts at risk our state’s vital information to cybersecurity attacks would set Oklahoma back,” she said.

During his presentation today, Reese pointed to several recent projects completed by OMES Information Services, the division he heads.

OMES has unified IT for 61 of the 78 legislatively mandated agencies, as well as 31 voluntary (nonappropriated) state agencies, at an estimated reduced spending and projected savings of about $129 million. Efforts to unify the remaining agencies should be finished by the end of the fiscal year, Reese said.

Specific projects he mentioned included consolidating and moving 55 critical data systems housed in the Department of Human Services. Previously, the systems took up 8,222 square feet at DHS. Through virtualization, the space was reduced to seven racks and the mainframe, occupying about 100 square feet at the OMES Information Services Data Center. Not only was it a white-space footprint reduction of nearly 99 percent, but also freed up valuable space for DHS.

Reese further highlighted efforts last year of OMES to partner with Oklahoma Park Rangers to install tablets in their patrol vehicles so important data on missing persons, warrants and criminal history backgrounds would be instantly available as opposed having to shuffle through paperwork at a station.

Reese suggested legislators could review his agency’s quarterly reports for more success stories at

Among the many unification benefits Reese outlined is the increased ability to combat cyber threats that didn’t exist before unification.

“Myself, having been in state IT for 24 years, I know we were often separated in our silos, our separate environments,” he said. “State data, and therefore the data of Oklahomans, is better protected when agencies are unified.”

Nonunified agencies don’t have the number of resources or expertise of CyberCommand. Reese said that last year CyberCommand successfully responded to 32,000 cases of unique malware, knocked down 750 instances of malicious activity and thwarted 400 occasions of unauthorized access.

“Unification makes Oklahoma’s technology more efficient, more accessible and stronger,” said Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston L. Doerflinger, who is the director of OMES. “It’s important to all Oklahomans that unification efforts continue and Oklahoma moves forward.”

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