By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, August 13, Alabama Secretary of Technology Brunson White spoke to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYR) about his role in the new state government position.
White said you have heard a lot of talk about the budget. We don’t have a budget. It would be awesome to have one. White said that the total state budget is about $20 billion. The Clouse budget sets the General Fund at $1.6 billion; but after Federal dollars, the State has $14 billion. Education gets about $6.7 billion.
Health and Human Services gets about $9 billion.
The Federal money comes with strings attached and is governed by the US Office of Management and Budget. A lot of the rules about the State’s information technology are largely federally mandated.
Before the Information Technology Office people in the state agencies kind of did their own thing. The new office is primarily a policy office. We have 9 people and our job is trying to get all State agencies to act like one group. We are trying to make sure that what we do is safer. A lot of friends in cyber technology hoped I would not take this job.
White said, “It is not as bad as I thought.” Some of the systems were a little antiquated. Half of our desk top infrastructure was running Windows XP. Microsoft is not going to support XP anymore. That was 18,000 of 33,000 computers. We replaced the old computers and had to borrow the money to do that but we don’t run unsupported software.
Secretary White said we outsource a lot of fulfillment of activities. Credit card processing is one of those. The State is installing a new time management system. The State’s workforce is so eclectic. One guy gets on a boat to go to work, another works in an ABC warehouse, and others go to a maximum security prison.
Brunson said that the state is going to turn the financials over to software in the Fall. The human capital management realm will go online in spring 2017. Today paying anything to the State is a manual process. Some body literally carries that payment to another building. That ends starting in October.
White People are starting to think about data differently. We are starting to think about what constituents need. The hardest thing I that we need to stop measuring activities and start thinking about outcomes. We need to make sure that what we are doing is making Alabama better. What success could be if we all achieved our objectives.
White said that he is the co-Chair of the board tasked with implementing the Governor’s Executive Order 6. We are one of three states that don’t have a longitudinal database. In a job recruitment meeting Boeing asked how many people are going to graduate with specific types of degrees in Alabama in the next three years. We didn’t know. We had to call the Universities and ask them each individually. They got the information in about a week. It shouldn’t take a week. A longitudinal database will take the data sources combine them together. White said that 47 other states have already done this we intend to learn from what they have done and learn from their mistakes.
White said, “My authority ends at the Executive Branch.” The Alabama Office of the Courts (AOC) have their own systems. The District courts have an elaborate filing system that has been considered to be pretty advanced for a very long time. Different parts of the court system have some very old systems. I suggested moving email to the cloud and they have gone along with it.
White said, “For a long time my claim to fame was that I put Wi-Fi in the capital building.” Chief of Staff Seth Hammett helped me get it done.
White said that every State agency going from manual to online at the same time. I was at Energen for 20 years this is by far the biggest system change I have ever been associated with.
GBYR Chair Jackie Curtiss said that White’s job is very important, “Trying to get Alabama up to speed.”
Curtiss said that the Alabama Republican Party’s Summer luncheon and meeting is Saturday, August 22. Curtiss asked that state executive committee members please attend. Some persons in the party are trying to take away the Alabama Minority GOP’s seat on the state steering committee. “They are one of our closest allies. Please vote no to that…It would look bad in the papers if we tried to remove the minority GOP from the steering committee.”
Wisconsin Governor and GOP Presidential contender Scott Walker (R) is the speaker at the luncheon. The meeting is after the luncheon. Contact ALGOP for tickets to the luncheon with Scott Walker.
Curtiss also urged members to also attend the GBYR Summer Luncheon with US Senator Richard Shelby on Thursday, August 20. Contact Jackie Curtiss for information about the luncheon with Senator Shelby.
Joel Blankenship urged members to join their fantasy football league. We had a lot of fun last year. There will be a prize. Email and we will put you in a league.