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Improving South Carolina's Management and Use of Information Technology
July 1997


Pursuant to the sunset law (§1-20-10 et seq. of the South Carolina Code of Laws), the State Reorganization Commission asked the Legislative Audit Council to review the efficiency and effectiveness of information technology (IT) systems throughout state government. Overall, we found that the state's IT management has not given adequate emphasis to the interest of the state as a whole. Every agency independently decides what information systems to use, how to procure hardware and software, and how to obtain training for its staff. This approach results in inefficiency and duplication of effort. It also increases the difficulty in coordinating and implementing IT projects that involve more than one agency.

Greater attention should be given to establishing a common technology infrastructure, sharing information, and implementing IT efforts that will benefit the entire state. To improve IT management, we recommend measures to ensure that the interest of the state as a single enterprise is protected. These measures include the establishment of a chief information officer (CIO) position for the state.

However, effective management of information technology in state government calls for an appropriate balance between centralization, control, and standardization on the one hand, and decentralization and agency autonomy on the other. We also identified many areas where agency autonomy for IT management is the most appropriate focus. Agencies need to improve their management of information technology resources as investments. Agencies should make IT decisions based on consideration of costs and benefits, and implement appropriate controls to measure the results of their investments in technology. We found in many instances the basic policies and practices necessary to protect and control the use of the state's resources were not in place. Many of our recommendations are directed to all state agencies.

Our review focused on 61 executive agencies; we did not review institutions of higher education, or the legislative and judicial departments. We concentrated on data processing and emerging technologies; we did not conduct a detailed review of telecommunications or printing and duplication technologies.