Minnesota IT consolidation saves $17.4 million to date


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Minnesota’s information technology consolidation efforts have saved the state $17.4 million over the past two years, according to information released last week by Gov. Mark Dayton and MN.IT Services, the state’s technology agency.

The cost savings come from reducing waste, consolidating contracts, reforming administrative processes and implementing new accountability measures.

Dayton praised the state’s information technology workforce for those savings, and other IT innovations and reforms at a celebration recognizing the work of MN.IT employees across the administration.

“MN.IT’s innovative work during the past two years has produced significant savings for Minnesota taxpayers,” Dayton said. “Their reforms are also delivering faster and more efficient services to our citizens. I thank Commissioner Parnell for her strong leadership and MN.IT’s hard-working employees for their accomplishments.”

The consolidation effort began in 2011 when Dayton signed bipartisan legislation to consolidate the state’s information systems, employees and administration.

As part of that ongoing consolidation, MN.IT Services established a statewide project management office to ensure greater accountability for the state’s major technology investments and contracts. In addition to increasing transparency, the reforms at MN.IT also are saving taxpayer dollars.

The agency is now negotiating contracts on behalf of all state agencies — saving Minnesota more than $11 million on software and licensing contracts in 2012.

These consolidation efforts are expected to save an additional $6.4 million by the end of 2013.

“These improvements represent only the tip of the iceberg,” said Carolyn Parnell, commissioner of MN.IT Services and the state’s chief information officer. “As IT consolidation efforts continue in the months and years ahead, we will certainly reinvest savings to further improve the IT capability and services provided by the State of Minnesota.”

Some of those projects include:

Improving Data Security – The State of Minnesota used to operate 36 data centers statewide to house the state’s data and maintain essential IT operations. A major component of IT consolidation efforts has been to replace those 36 separate locations with two enterprise data centers that serve all of state government. That single 2-3-year effort will improve information security, reduce physical space maintained and operated by the state, and cut energy consumption and costs statewide.

Streamlining Prescriptions and Reducing Medication Errors – MN.IT worked with the Department of Human Services to streamline and improve an old and outdated system for filling prescriptions at state hospitals and medical facilities. Since making those improvements, transcription errors have decreased, and awareness of drug interactions and allergies has improved. Overall, patient safety has increased by 40 percent. The system improvements are also saving nurses valuable time. Nurses used to spend more than 3 hours per day filling prescriptions. With new improvements implemented by MN.IT and the Department of Human Services, nurses are spending only 15 minutes per day filling prescriptions — a savings of nearly 14 labor hours every workweek.

Supporting Minnesota Businesses. This year, MN.IT worked with the Department of Employment and Economic Development to create a “Made In Minnesota” database. The new website encourages Minnesota businesses to buy products and supplies from each other, rather than from out-of-state or foreign companies. The tool contains details about nearly 600 Minnesota manufacturers statewide.

The Dayton administration is continuing its efforts to streamline the state’s IT systems. During the 2013 legislative session, Dayton worked with the legislature to make new information technology reforms and investments that will reduce waste and increase savings for Minnesota taxpayers. Some of those measures include:

Department of Human Services – The new state budget invests in an initiative to replace a 20-year-old IT system at the Department of Human Services to increase efficiencies at the county level and identify and prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

Department of Natural Resources – The new state budget invests in an initiative to modernize data collection and performance reporting at the Department of Natural Resources to measure results, reduce costs, and improve public access to information.

Department of Public Safety – The new state budget invests in an initiative to replace outdated IT systems at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, providing more timely and accurate data to help law enforcement reduce the incidence of crime in Minnesota.

Department of Education – The new state budget continues the development of a statewide education data system to help educators and policymakers design and implement a better education system for Minnesota students.

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Carolyn Parnell, Mark Dayton, Minnesota, States