BOSTON, Aug. 6 -- Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., has issued the following news release:
Governor Deval Patrick today signed H. 3770, "An Act Financing Information Technology Equipment and Related Projects," which expands opportunity and access for all Massachusetts residents by making targeted investments in the Commonwealth's technology infrastructure, including increasing access to broadband for underserved areas of the Commonwealth.
"Our digital infrastructure is every bit as important as our physical infrastructure," said Governor Patrick. "The improvements made possible by this plan will ensure that all the Commonwealth's citizens are served by a 21st century government."
The bond legislation authorizes funding to bring high-speed internet to schools and underserved parts of the state, including a $38 million pilot grant program for school connectivity and $50 million for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to develop "last-mile" solutions that bring broadband connectivity to more homes and businesses in western and central Massachusetts communities. The bill also supports innovative, customer-focused investments in state systems to make our government a digital business. In support of this goal, MassIT (formerly the Commonwealth's Information Technology Division) is leading the Commonwealth to develop smaller, high-impact projects that streamline access to government services, such as a public housing waitlists and client management systems that will make the current paper-based process more efficient for renters, housing authority employees and taxpayers.
Complementing reforms enacted in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 operating budget, this bill includes key enhancements to MassIT, which are consistent with Governor Patrick's Executive Order No. 549. Under these reforms, MassIT and the Commonwealth's Chief Information Officer (CCIO) have assumed a more strategic and supervisory role for Commonwealth-wide technology projects, centralizing authority over IT system acquisition and development. The CCIO will adopt policies, standards and guidelines for governance of IT projects, key elements of which will include: identifying which projects require approval of the CCIO; providing enhanced oversight of procurements and system implementation; and creating more competition among IT vendors while disqualifying underperforming vendors.
Additionally, for the first time, this bill allows the state's Comptroller to transfer budgetary savings or revenue generated by technology projects to pay the debt service associated with those projects. This will ensure that the Commonwealth is capturing the return on our investments and saving taxpayer dollars.
"This legislation helps residents and businesses to successfully navigate our IT systems and keep pace with technology, which is always advancing," said Senate President Therese Murray. "We are taking important steps to increase our oversight and improve the efficiency of our systems to ensure that Massachusetts remains competitive and a leader in the global marketplace."
"Getting the most value for the taxpayer dollar requires strong oversight and management," said Commonwealth Chief Information Officer Bill Oates. "This bill makes clear that when it comes to the Commonwealth's information technology, MassIT will be involved and responsible."
"This legislation enacts the reforms needed to help protect taxpayers against expensive and broken IT projects," said Senator Brian A. Joyce. "It will also ensure that our schools can implement technology upgrades to prepare our children for college and beyond."
"Every level of state and local government is impacted by information technology," said Senator Don Humason. "We direct spending in critical areas such as public safety, broadband access, school enhancements, construction and environmental protection, while securing procurement safeguards and contract transparency that will deliver for taxpayers."
"This legislation contains significant new investment for last-mile broadband connectivity, a reminder that we remain committed to ensure that all communities, all families, and all businesses have access to high-speed internet service," said Representative Denise Andrews. "We know that today children in our rural communities lack opportunity, in-part because they lack access to do their homework, that businesses have difficulty participating in the global marketplace, and that is often difficult to sell homes in beautiful rural towns, simply because they cannot connect. I'm grateful for the long commitment of the Patrick administration and legislature to get this done for our communities."
"I would like to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Shor for their commitment to significantly improving access to high speed internet service and interagency law enforcement communications capabilities in Western Massachusetts through the passage of this important legislation," said Representative Peter V. Kocot.
Yesterday, Governor Patrick signed H. 3933, "An Act Providing for Capital Repairs and Improvements for the Commonwealth," which authorizes funding for improvements to state facilities, including $328 million for Health and Human Services facilities. These include the Soldiers' Homes, group homes for the developmentally disabled, state hospitals and facilities for the Department of Youth Services. Together with the IT bond bill, these two bills authorize more than $2 billion of bonding for investments in state and local government facilities, higher education and IT.
The Capital Repairs and Improvements bond bill also authorizes:
* $200 million to address deferred maintenance needs on the Commonwealth's public higher education campuses;
* Funding to complete the development of a campus in Framingham for Mass Bay Community College;
* $96 million for state and local public safety facilities, equipment and vehicles;
* $8 million for a grant program to vocational schools and community colleges for the purchase of equipment necessary to train students for 21st century jobs;
* $50 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to repair and improve local, nonprofit facilities that support the creative economy;
* $151 million for grants to renovate and construct local libraries through the Board of Library Commissioners;
* $450 million to repair and improve state government buildings; and
* $25.5 million to improve accessibility of state facilities.
"Under Governor Patrick's leadership, we have reversed a generation of underinvestment in the Commonwealth's assets," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor.
The bills support capital investment projects included in the Patrick Administration's FY2015- 2019 Capital Investment Plan and continue the Administration's efforts to promote broad-based economic growth and opportunity by investing in infrastructure, innovation and education. The Capital Investment Plan can be found at www.mass.gov/capital.
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