Raleigh, N.C. — The patchwork of hardware, software and databases used across various state agencies makes it hard, if not impossible, for state government to get things done, Chris Estes, the state's chief information officer, told reporters Thursday.
"Agencies have a hard time working together because the technology doesn't work together," he said.
A new technology testing center in downtown Raleigh will help smooth out those differences, Estes and Gov. Pat McCrory said, showing off what they called the "Innovation Center" on the first floor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources offices.
Both Estes and McCrory took note of a withering audit issued earlier this week that said state information technology projects were costing more and taking longer than projected.
"Our goal with setting up this (center) is to prevent that from happening again," McCrory said.
Going forward, Estes said, state contracts will require hardware and software providers use the innovation center to set up and test the systems they want to sell the state. Companies will have to prove to the state their software works before it is put in place.
"This is the facility that will make sure that happens," Estes said.
The center is months away from its formal opening, Estes and McCrory said. However, one of the technologies on display would let state workers access computer programs and their own working files from any computer or mobile device, not just their work desktop.
The center will also allow employees to get training on current technology from both companies and the state's university system. As well, Estes said, the center would open its doors to "hackathons," inviting computer enthusiasts and others to talk about their problems doing business with the state and offering solutions.
In order to get the center fully up and running, McCrory says he'll need one additional bit of authority from the legislature. Currently, he said, it could be considered an ethics violation for state employees to allow companies to demonstrate and test their hardware and software for free. The proposed change would make clear that's not a violation.