HARRISBURG – Sens. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery/Berks) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) announced their intention to introduce legislation aimed at elevating the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Commonwealth to a cabinet-level position.
The proposed move aims to enhance the management of critical data, including birth and death records, tax information, criminal lab and evidence data, and health records. Recognizing the necessity for swift decision-making in the ever-evolving tech landscape, the senators support providing the CIO with autonomy, aligning with the successful approach adopted by more than half of states nationwide.
“The sheer growing scope of responsibility that the Chief Information Officer is tasked with alone warrants evaluation to the cabinet-level,” added Pennycuick. “This move will give the officer more flexibility to ensure that state government is on the cutting edge of the latest information technology, delivery of services and protecting our systems from cybersecurity threats. Additionally, I believe this move will open new avenues for increased transparency and collaboration.”
The legislation seeks to streamline decision-making processes, reducing bureaucratic impediments that can hinder quick and efficient responses.
“We believe that by elevating the CIO to a cabinet-level position, we are not just protecting data; we are securing the future of the Commonwealth’s technological landscape,” Phillips-Hill said. “It is time to empower our CIO to lead with agility, ensuring the resilience and efficiency of our state’s IT services. For years, the Wolf Administration and now the Shapiro Administration tell us everything is fine, when the status quo is clearly not working.”
The legislation comes a day after the Senate Communication and Technology Committee, chaired by Pennycuick, held a public hearing with state officials and IT experts on a massive data loss that impacted the Pennsylvania State Police’s evidence logs and the State Employees’ Retirement System. The Shapiro Administration paid $530,000 to bring in a Washington-based IT crisis firm to assist with the fallout.
The senators emphasize the potential of this legislation to enhance the state’s technological capabilities, protect sensitive information, and position Pennsylvania as a leader in effective IT governance.
Matt Szuchyt (Pennycuick)