June 22, 2024

Representative Steven S. Howitt supports $1.235B bond bill to address the state’s information technology needs

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Boston – State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) recently voted in favor of legislation that authorizes $1.235 billion in state bond funding to help improve the Commonwealth’s information technology and cyber-security capabilities.

House Bill 4642, An Act to provide for the future information technology needs of Massachusetts, was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 152-2 on May 15. The House bill is a redrafted version of legislation that was originally filed by Governor Maura Healey on January 9 as House Bill 4242.

Representative Howitt said the information technology bond bill was filed in response to an assessment conducted by the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) Office of Capital Planning. EOTSS worked closely with the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F) to identify the state’s IT capital project needs over the next five years and to determine the funding levels necessary to meet those needs.

According to Representative Howitt, the House bill provides funding for strengthening cybersecurity, increasing IT capital efficiencies, improving the digital user experience between state agencies and residents, and supporting future AI-augmented services. This includes a $150 million capital funding authorization overseen by A&F to help municipal governments, as well as regional school districts and regional vocational technical high schools, to address cyber security threats and improve the security of critical technology infrastructure.

An additional $25 million is allocated in the IT bond bill to enhance the quality, efficiency, and delivery of state services to the public and the interactions between Massachusetts residents and state agencies. This will include the purchase, licensing, and implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning systems for the state’s various agencies, following established enterprise security policies and protocols.

In addition, House Bill 4642 authorizes $30 million in competitive matching grants through A&F to assist municipalities and tribal governments with building fiber broadband infrastructure. Representative Howitt said it also includes $25 million for the Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services to fund the Community Compact Information Technology Grant Program, which assists cities and towns with their one-time capital needs, such as technology infrastructure and software.

Representative Howitt noted the House IT bond bill also establishes a new Information Technology Federal Reimbursement Fund. This non-budgeted special revenue fund will be administered by the secretary of EOTSS and used exclusively to support information technology projects related to health and human services.

House Bill 4642 now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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