Computer consolidation bill advances

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to consolidate computer maintenance work across most state agencies into one office is nearing final legislative passage, winning support Monday from the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee.

The budget assumes $24.7 million in savings from the consolidation effort. The savings would come from merging software licenses, hardware maintenance agreements and contract services, from increased bulk purchasing of computer products and from cutting vacant jobs.

Senate Bill 481 by state Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, would create a new Office of Technology Services in the 2014-15 fiscal year under the oversight of Jindal’s Division of Administration, with more than 800 state employees.

The new office would be budgeted at $280 million, charging agencies various rates for services to cover its costs.

Higher education and elected officials are excluded from the consolidation effort.

Already approved by the Senate, the bill moves next to the full House for debate. It was approved without objection Monday by the House committee.