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Pence says pricey new program will save money

September 9, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence unveiled a new government management program Tuesday, one that he promised will improve efficiency and save the state money in the long run but that comes with a hefty price tag.

Employees of Pence's new Management and Performance Hub will centralize data from multiple state agencies and make it broadly available, in the hope that improving the flow of information will help state workers solve problems more quickly. For instance, drug use trends over the past two decades were mapped out during a demonstration Tuesday.

"Welcome to the future of state government," Pence said Tuesday from the program's digs in the Statehouse basement.

But it also comes with an array of new spending: $340,000 for renovated office space and equipment, $550,000 a year for software licensing, $560,000 a year for outside consultants and $2.5 million in upfront software costs.

Meanwhile, state tax collections have lagged expectations as the state economy continues to struggle. Pence has been forced to cut spending at state agencies and sell the state plane, though he's maintained $2 billion in cash reserves.

Democrats have chastised the GOP for not touching that money while cutting state services.

The governor noted Tuesday that the program may have some upfront costs but said they would be offset by improved performance at state agencies and cost savings. He added that he plans to eliminate certain state programs in his upcoming budget proposal; he would not say which.

The project is being paid for from the state information technology office's budget, a $125,000 grant from the Eli Lilly endowment and the ending of a downtown office lease that was costing the state $35,000 a year.

"What we're trying to do with these tools is let data analysts be data analysts, not data gatherers," Chris Atkins, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said as he led a tour of the new operation.

He pointed to an old print report on the efficiency of the state's vehicle fleet. The report, he said, would have taken weeks to produce, but information could now be funneled directly to data analysts who can make quick work of the raw figures.

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