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Secretary of State’s Office Among Entities Funded for IT in New Budget

The California secretary of state’s office is among many that received funding for IT and innovation projects in the new Fiscal Year 2021-2022 state budget, officials with e.Republic said during a recent virtual briefing for Techwire members.

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The complexities of crafting a state budget during a historic pandemic showed this year as lawmakers enacted a stop-gap document and worked past deadline on key issues like broadband – but what emerged reveals a strong economic footing, e.Republic officials said last week.

A complete, enacted Fiscal Year 2021-2022 state budget didn’t emerge until mid-July, but the results offer a plethora of potential IT projects for IT companies, e.Republic* Executive Vice President Alan Cox and Deputy Chief Innovation Officer Joe Morris told more than 160 attendees during the “Virtual Member Briefing on the New State of California Budget.”

Cox and Morris walked attendees through a series of slides with details about the budget.

“Frankly, this budget seemed like it had something for everybody,” Morris told members, pointing out that 85 percent of discretionary spending in the $262.6 billion state budget is aimed at one-time expenditures, demonstrating that leaders “really are making a concerted effort to try and avoid that funding clip as much as they can.” One state entity with a slate of initiatives funded in the budget is the California secretary of state’s office (SOS):

  • Maintaining safe and secure elections and modernizing the process is a significant focus, with SOS earmarking nearly $9.8 million in spending authority from the federal trust fund for “maintenance and operations, data analysis, security assessment, (and) further increased Department of Motor Vehicles and California Department of Technology connectivity costs,” according to a slide from the briefing. The funding is also aimed at Election Management System support, and verification for the VoteCal statewide voter registration system. Separately, there’s more than $22.7 million in expenditure authority in the new fiscal year from the federal trust fund, to “continue implementation the statewide mandates of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.”
    “This is all part of just increasing the capability to do a good job around voting in California. It has to be secured and it has to be trusted, so nice to see some money put into this area for sure,” Cox, who is the publisher of Techwire, said during the briefing.
  • There’s more than $3.2 million in FY 2021-22 and nearly $2.9 million in FY 2022-23 for maintenance and operation of the CAL-ACCESS Replacement System. CAL-ACCESS, per the state, “is the public’s window into California’s campaign disclosure and lobbying financial activity, providing financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, lobbyist employers and others” – a valuable tool to uncover campaign finance documents. The CAL-ACCESS Replacement System (CARS) Project, according to SOS, “will implement a new data-driven system replacing the existing forms-driven system.”
  • There’s nearly $11.7 million in spending authority for FY 2021-22, $8.2 million from the business fees fund and $3.5 million from the Business Programs Modernization Fund, to continue implementing the California Business Connect project. That’s an IT project to automate paper-based processes; let businesses file and get copies of records online 24/7; open up access to SOS business records; and allow payment processing in one business day.
  • As the pandemic continues, contactless services have the attention of state and local government and “are going to be a thread we’re going to see nationally,” Cox said. The new state budget dedicates nearly $3.1 million in FY 2021-22 and more than $1.6 million in FY 2022-23 and ongoing, plus three positions to “automate paper-based processes and support increased online and contactless access” to historic state public records and data preserved in the State Archives.
  • And in the area of digitization, there’s $783,000 in FY 2021-22 and $753,000 in FY 2022-23 and ongoing to fund six permanent full-time positions to bring SOS’ Human Resources Bureau staff “in line with agency growth”; and to provide SOS the “guidance for decision-making,” and to “ensure appropriate manual, resources and tools are developed to ensure compliance with laws and regulation, and streamline internal processes” in HR, during digitization and modernization project efforts.
*e.Republic is the parent company of Techwire.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.