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North Dakota’s tech entrepreneur turned governor wants to use savings from budget cuts to boost investments in IT infrastructure.
North Dakota’s governor is hoping to reshape his state government’s technology infrastructure by using savings from sweeping budget cuts.
Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican elected in 2016, served as chairman and CEO of Great Plains Software, a startup company that was acquired by Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2007. His gubernatorial platform included a pledge to "reinvent government," which in practice includes a goal of cutting the state’s public-sector workforce by 5 percent as part of an overall proposal to cut $125 million from the general fund and an additional $50 million from the state university system.
The workforce cuts will most likely be accomplished through attrition. The turnover rate among state employees was 12.7 percent last year, and 12 percent are currently eligible for retirement, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
Burgum hopes to use the $175 million in savings to boost the state’s information technology capabilities, starting by bringing together the systems used in the state’s various departments. North Dakota government currently operates 165 unique websites, many running on outdated software, according to the Herald.
Increased use of cloud-based services will likely factor in as well, Burgum said.
The ultimate goal is to “create an online experience for state government services that has the ease of the online shopping experience of Amazon Prime,” the governor told the Herald last week.
Last month, Burgum and other state officials announced a major upgrade to the state’s broadband network that would connect state and local governments and schools to a 100-gigabit network.
The project is slated for completion next summer and “will position North Dakota as the first state to achieve 1-gigabit connectivity to every school district in the state,” the governor’s office said in a press release.
The proposals are part of Burgum’s reinventing government initiative, which last year highlighted the “IT unification effort” as a way to increase collaboration among state departments to better serve constituents.
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.