Recently, there has been a significant amount of talk inside state agencies about a planned initiative of the Lamont administration to centralize the State’s information technology (IT) operations. Most of this talk has come from IT managers across state service describing this “IT Optimization” in sunny but vague tones. The administration reached out to CSEA, through the Office of Labor Relations, requesting to meet and discuss the project. In response, the P-4 Council appointed a team of IT members and the team has met with management on a couple of occasions over the past several weeks.
The union team has approached the project with cautious optimism. There are plenty of historical examples of management using “reorganization” or “centralization” to achieve ends that are not in the interests of workers. At the same time, the state’s approach to IT is in need of update in many different ways.
The union team communicated to management a number of goals that need to be a part of IT Optimization and the process of building a 21st century IT operation. These goals include, but are not limited to: reducing the state’s reliance on outside contractors, providing on-going training, creating career paths so that employees can achieve maximum potential, addressing the outdated job description and compensation system, reducing silos and isolation, improving system security, improving services and delivery, expanding the opportunity to work 40 hours, embracing telework and alternate work schedules, and addressing/reversing systemic racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of historical exclusion.
The discussions with management began in a very collaborative, productive manner. Recently, however, management has inexplicably stalled the process. Despite the stall in union discussions, management continues to hold meetings with various stakeholders (including leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly) purporting that the project is full steam ahead. This is an alarming path for the administration to take. Any initiative of this nature can only succeed if it is executed as a true partnership with the people who actually do the work. Through CSEA, IT members across the state will continue to push for collaboration with an eye toward building a more effective IT operation that is better for workers.