US states call for e-government systems overhaul

President-elect Barack Obama is urging the US congress to approve plans to spend billions of dollars on road and bridge projects as part of his economic stimulus plan.

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President-elect Barack Obama is urging the US congress to approve plans to spend billions of dollars on road and bridge projects as part of his economic stimulus plan.

However, some CIOs of US states are also hoping that their aging IT infrastructures will also qualify for investement.

An online survey of state CIOs conducted last summer by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, attracted 29 respondents from the 50 states. It found two-thirds reporting that between 40% and 80% of their IT setup consisted of legacy systems. And many reported that they were still running code written 20 or more years ago.

Kyle Schafer, West Virginia's chief technology officer and co-chairman of a NASCIO working group that wrote a report based on the survey results, plans to replace 92 long-used applications with an ERP system at an estimated cost of US$40 million to $60 million.

One of the selling points was lower operating costs. Schafer said that based on benchmarking done by a consulting firm, it costs West Virginia $33 to process an invoice, while states with modern ERP systems have an average processing cost of about $8.

West Virginia has a budget surplus, but many other states are facing deficits. Schafer said he hopes that as part of any stimulus package, the Obama administration treats IT upgrades the same way as other infrastructure-renewal projects.